Verizon expands 5G home, offers $500 to cover switcher fees

Verizon is turning on its fixed wireless 5G home broadband service in three new cities, and offering to pay customers up to $500 to cover early termination fees from other providers.

The new cities include Riverside, California later this week, and Memphis and San Antonio on May 6. That brings Verizon’s 5G Home Internet tally to parts of 33 cities. Verizon also offers 5G fixed wireless for business customers in parts of 21 markets.

The FWA 5G home service uses high-band millimeter wave spectrum, and promises typical download speeds of 300 Mbps with maximum download speeds up to 1 Gbps.

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Service starts at $50 per month for customers who have a mobile plan from Verizon that costs at least $30 per month, otherwise it’s $70 per month. It also comes with no data caps, no extra fees for equipment or annual contracts.

Reimbursing up to $500 in charges for canceling service from another provider early is a new promotion as Verizon looks to get customers aboard 5G Home, and starts April 29. New subscribers also get a Samsung Chromebook 4 and a free Stream TV device, with a year of the Discovery+ streaming service.

Verizon touted 5G Home as “ideal for people working remotely, schooling at home or streaming their favorite shows or movies.” Anshel Sag, senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, views the new promotions as a positive hook to reel in new customers.

“Offering money up to cover early termination fees and throwing in a Chromebook is a great way to get people to move, especially if they are unhappy with their broadband service, which many people have realized during this pandemic,” Sag told Fierce.

The latest expansion also is compelling, he said, because Verizon gets access to more home broadband customers “and potentially offers a more competitive second or third option for home broadband services where the market isn't that competitive.”

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By the end of the year, Verizon aims to cover 15 million households with both 5G and 4G LTE-based fixed wireless broadband. That increases to 30 million by the end of 2023, with a target of 50 million homes covered by FWA 5G service at the close of 2025.

T-Mobile is also making a push with fixed wireless 4G and 5G home broadband. The latter launched earlier this month. It costs $60 per month, and like Verizon promises no added taxes or fees, no data caps and no contract. Customers are expected to see average speeds of 100 Mbps, with 30 million homes eligible for service.

PCMag is testing out T-Mobile’s home broadband service, and reported that just a few hours in, speeds varied between 30 Mbps without a 5G connection and 250 Mbps with 5G (with conclusive results still to come). Unlike Verizon’s mmWave, T-Mobile is using mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum for the 5G-connected service, which typically provides stronger signal reach but less speed.

Moor Insights’ Sag expects Verizon “will very likely offer much faster speeds for the foreseeable future until T-Mobile lights up enough of its mid-band.”

That said, he believes Verizon’s 5G home footprint “will be fairly limited” until the carrier can build out its own mid-band spectrum coverage (expected with C-band) to the extent it can also be utilized for home broadband.  

“Overall, I think Verizon's offerings are compelling for users who are within its service areas, which today look and feel very fiber-like in terms of spottiness and speed,” Sag said via email.

RELATED: T-Mobile launches commercial 5G Home Internet

A recent survey from Cowen focused on broadband and cable MVNOs found customers who take an operator's wireline service are more likely to subscribe to wireless, too. But having wireless service doesn't necessarily make it more likely they'll subscribe to broadband from the same operator.

“We found that being a wireless customer in the respective ILEC footprint only modestly helped boost wireline adoption,” wrote Cowen analysts in a Tuesday note to investors. “However, for AT&T/Verizon subscribers that do take the respective carrier’s wireline broadband, they have a far higher propensity to also bundle wireless.”

In the survey, Verizon’s postpaid wireless share was 33%, but the percentage of Verizon wireline subscribers that bundled mobile service was much higher at 50%.

The firm noted a number of things could be at play, including the power of the bundle; less choices for wireline compared to wireless; and a wireline “homefield advantage.” But it could also indicate a positive for cable MVNOs, such as Comcast and Charter.

“The bundle pull-through that wireline can bring to wireless bodes well for Cable’s venture into wireless,” wrote Cowen equity analysts.

Alongside its fixed wireless 5G Home expansion, Verizon announced mmWave-based 5GUltra Wideband mobile service is now available in four new locations for a total of 71. Those include the 5G Home cities of San Antonio and Riverside, as well as Fresno, California, and New Orleans.