Verizon CFO: Mobile 5G ‘not a 2018 activity’

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Verizon continues 5G precommercial trials in markets across the U.S. and promises to share more later in the fourth quarter.

Verizon CFO Matthew Ellis made it clear during the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call that mobile 5G is not going to be a thing for Verizon in 2018.

Asked by an analyst if mobile 5G, versus fixed, might arrive earlier than anticipated, Ellis said: “In terms of the timing of mobile 5G, it’s certainly not a 2018 activity.”

Verizon announced earlier this week that it is collaborating with Qualcomm Technologies and Novatel Wireless on 5G New Radio (NR) millimeter wave technology development and over-the-air field trials based on the 5G NR Release-15 specifications being developed by 3GPP.

“We were very proud to be part of that announcement with Qualcomm earlier this week and really what you’re seeing there is, as we have talked about now for the past two to three years, we said if we put our shoulder behind 5G development, we think we can accelerate” versus some of the other timing that was taking place, Ellis said. “And there were some people who were saying they didn’t even think 5G was going to be real and if you would be able to use millimeter wave spectrum.”

RELATED: Verizon ‘more excited than ever’ about fixed wireless for 5G: CEO

Verizon is still conducting precommercial 5G trials in 11 markets throughout the country, but he declined to give more specifics about the trials, promising to share more later in the fourth quarter.

He did say the trials are going “very well” and they’re learning a lot about using millimeter wave spectrum and some other things, including the fact that it can deliver service without line of sight and to more floors in a multidwelling unit than expected: above 20 floors, which is more than they thought going into the trials.

“Nothing has changed about our intent to launch the fixed wireless broadband offering during the course of 2018,” he reiterated.

Ellis said Verizon has seen a wide range of services that it can offer on 5G, and that’s why it’s so excited about it. It’s also been at the forefront of getting an ecosystem together and working through its 5G Technical Forum.

RELATED: Qualcomm boasts world’s first announced 5G data connection on 5G modem chipset for mobiles

Qualcomm, too, is pegging the first half of 2019 for real 5G smartphones and networks to be up and running—and its engineers are intent on proving that mobility can be accomplished in 5G, including at 28 GHz.

“It’s not just for fixed wireless,” Sherif Hanna, product management/product marketing for mobile at Qualcomm, told FierceWirelessTech. “In our opinion, this is almost like a second CDMA moment for us,” where a lot of people didn’t believe CDMA was viable at all back in the '90s. Qualcomm not only proved it was viable but it also turned out to be pretty popular—and a technology adopted by the likes of Verizon and other carriers.

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray has said the “uncarrier” expects some work to start in 2019 and it’s targeting 2020 for a full nationwide 5G rollout. And he has stressed that while other carriers are focused on fixed 5G, basically replacing the wired home internet, T-Mobile intends for mobile 5G to “cover you wherever you go” and not be boring.