Verizon CFO: ‘This is the top of the first inning in 5G’

New York (Pixabay)
Apartment buildings in dense urban areas are a key focus of millimeter wave studies.

Verizon may be intent on offering fixed 5G service in three to five markets by the end of next year, but 5G in the long haul goes beyond fixed wireless access.

“This is the first use case for the 5G network, but it’s not a single use case network,” where it’s just about residential broadband, said Verizon CFO Matt Ellis at a UBS investor conference in New York City on Tuesday.

“This is the top of the first inning on 5G,” and as mobility use cases follow, whether they’re for consumers or the IoT—with lower latencies and higher throughput—“there will be many more applications for 5G, things that you can’t do in 4G, so we’re very excited to get to those mobility use cases as well.”

Last week, Verizon announced it will launch a wireless residential broadband service in three to five U.S. markets next year, starting with Sacramento in the second half of 2018. That news follows 5G trials in 11 markets this past year.

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Ellis reviewed some of the lessons learned in its work with millimeter wave, some of which Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer revealed during her keynote at the FierceWireless NextGen Wireless Networks Summit in Dallas last week. For example, expectations going into the trials called for maybe reaching the sixth floor of buildings with millimeter wave, but they discovered they were able to get as high as the 19th floor. And they’re also getting speeds in and above the 1 gigabit-per-second range beyond 2,000 feet; industry expectations had been more in the range of 500 or 600 feet.

Verizon spent a lot of time in the lab on millimeter wave in 2015 and last year took it outside to real-world environments. This year, the trials were more commercial-oriented, and the company has determined that about 30 million homes are addressable with this type of residential broadband type of product over the course of the next “short number of years,” according to Ellis.

The nation’s No. 1 operator by subscribers plans to start testing 5G mobility in 2018. It did some initial 5G mobility testing prior to the Indy 500 in May, when a driver used augmented reality to drive around the track while the windshield was blacked out. The driver used the augmented reality video to “see” where to drive around the track.

Ellis indicated that Verizon is looking at more than just a broadband-only type of service. If a customer wants only broadband, they can do that, but if they want video and/or voice, that’s also in the mix.

For cord cutters who have moved off linear TV, “then we’ll do broadband only,” but for those people who want to continue to bundle video with broadband, “we’ll have that.” It won’t be a traditional linear TV product; it will be more of an over-the-top product, and as to the exact nature of that OTT product, “more details to come” on that, he said.