Verizon says consumers will self-install 5G fixed service when it relaunches

Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband logo (Verizon)
Verizon is seeing solid performance from its 5G Home service and it’s meeting expectations, according to Adam Koeppe, SVP of technology, strategy and planning. (Verizon)

When Verizon relaunches its 5G Home fixed wireless service in the second half of the year the company expects the vast majority of customers will self-install the new standards-based router and the antenna.

This tidbit was revealed by Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s senior vice president of technology, strategy and planning, during a MoffettNathanson investor conference earlier this week.

Koeppe said that the company will migrate from its proprietary pre-standard 5G equipment (called 5G TF) to standards-based 5G New Radio (NR) in its four launch markets of Indianapolis; Sacramento and Los Angeles, California; and Houston, and in new markets starting in the second half of the year.  

When Verizon launched those four 5G Home markets last year it touted the fact that it would be offering a "white glove" experience but didn’t really provide details about what that entailed. Koeppe said that the company sent technicians to homes to validate that 5G coverage was available and to make sure that Verizon’s deployment models were accurate.

“There were a lot of lessons learned,” he said, adding that the technicians discovered which homes needed external antennas and which ones needed internal antennas.

Those lessons played a big role in why the company now believes that when it rolls out the new standardized 5G NR fixed wireless service that most customers will be able to install it themselves. “We’re seeing advances in antennas that are self-install,” he said, adding that technicians will be available to go to homes if a professional installation is needed.

MoffettNathanson analysts have been particularly critical of Verizon’s use of mmWave spectrum for its 5G deployments. In a research note last month, analyst Craig Moffett wrote that mmWave spectrum, when used for 5G, is best as a “supporting, not a starring, role.”

However, during the investor conference, Koeppe said that Verizon is seeing solid performance from its 5G Home service and that it’s meeting expectations. He also said that the propagation limitations of mmWave spectrum are not new and that Verizon is focused on optimizing the experience for the customer.

When Verizon launched those first four markets the company only used 400 MHz of its 28 GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum, he said. The company has an additional 400 MHz of 28 GHz spectrum available in many markets and it will likely use that additional spectrum when it deploys the service more broadly in the second half of the year. “Using mmWave to support coverage in dense urban markets makes sense,” he said.

Koeppe also touted the role software plays in Verizon’s 5G network. He noted that in Chicago and Minneapolis, where Verizon has launched its mobile 5G network that it calls 5G Ultra Wideband, the company is constantly improving the communications between the device and the network with daily software improvements. “It’s an agile process,” he said. “We find problems in the field and we fix them in real time.”