Verizon executives have been talking about this for a while now – the new customer premises equipment (CPE) that is supposed to make its 5G Home fixed wireless access (FWA) product so much more compelling. Well, it’s finally arriving in eight cities, including two new cities in Verizon’s 5G Home Internet coverage area starting on October 1: Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The 5G Home Internet equipment, including a 5G internet receiver and Wi-Fi router in one device, was designed for easy set-up by the consumer in their home. It arrives in a single box and customers can use a smartphone app to find the ideal placement for mounting on a wall or window; the 5G gateway will confirm a 5G signal is available.
The manufacturer of the CPE hardware is Wistron NeWeb Corporation (WNC), an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) based in Taiwan. Verizon confirmed the home router is powered by Qualcomm’s long-awaited QTM527 antenna, which was first reported by PC Mag.
Verizon says everything the consumer needs to mount the device is in the box, including step-by-step instructions. The operator didn’t say how long it will take to set it up; CEO Hans Vestberg indicated during an earnings call in July that he wanted the self-install to be under one hour. While that didn’t happen, it beats the old model of waiting weeks for an installer to come into the home and set it up. For those who don’t want to set it up themselves, Verizon is offering to do it for them.
The company says customers can expect typical speeds around 300 Mbps and depending on location, maximum speeds up to 1 Gbps.
The cost of the service is $50 per month for Verizon customers and $70 per month for non-Verizon customers. To entice customers, Verizon is throwing in YouTube TV for one month and Disney+ for one year for new 5G Home Internet customers. For smart home enthusiasts, it’s also tossing in a free Amazon Smart Home Bundle, which includes an Echo Show 5, Ring Stick Up Cam, Echo Dot and Amazon Smart Plug.
In addition to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Verizon offers its 5G Home Internet service in parts of Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. The new equipment is available in all those cities except Sacramento, where customers will convert to the 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) version in 2021.
RELATED: Verizon tweaks 5G Home, puts 5G repeaters on road map
Verizon has said it plans to be in parts of 10 cities with this service by the end of 2020. The 5G Home Internet product is configured to use millimeter wave (mmWave) signals at 28 GHz and 39 GHz, according to a spokesperson.
More home use during pandemic
Verizon mentioned in its press release that the 5G Internet Gateway comes as people are spending more time at home during the pandemic.
“Verizon's new 5G Internet Gateway is a game-changer for our customers,” said Frank Boulben, SVP Consumer Marketing and Products at Verizon, in a statement. “With people spending more time at home during these challenging times, the expansion of 5G Home Internet to new markets with new and improved hardware will provide customers with the flexibility and reliability to enjoy more digital experiences and increased productivity from the comfort of their home.”
Earlier this year, Verizon indicated it wasn’t going to wait for its 5G Home service to get fully baked, launching a FWA service using its 4G LTE network. The LTE service enables the operator to expand into more rural areas and expand outside its Fios and 5G Home footprints.
Verizon’s biggest rivals in the home internet space arguably are its “frenemies” – the cable companies, a couple of which use Verizon’s network through MVNO arrangements. Charter Communications and Comcast also are acquiring spectrum of their own to offload traffic in an effort to diminish their reliance on the wireless carrier’s network.
New Street Research investment analysts put out a report this week noting that fixed networks saw a sharp spike in usage at the beginning of the pandemic. Wireless networks saw usage growth of nearly 30% since the start of the pandemic, double the historical rate, but New Street’s research suggests that many users may have run into usage caps, driving them to switch to a fixed provider. They now expect to see greater upside for cable in the next few years.