5G and Beyond

Verizon CEO views 5G Home as 'transformative business'

5G Home, Verizon's fixed wireless access (FWA) service delivered via millimeter waves, hasn't blown the doors off the broadband market, but company CEO Hans Vestberg believes it is well positioned to become a key growth driver for both residential and small business customers.

He's particularly partial to 5G Home's self-install model, its ability to be bundled with various streaming video services and the opportunity to market the service outside Verizon's Fios wireline footprint and combine it with Verizon's mobile network.

"You can even move the broadband [service] with you," Vestberg said of 5G Home today at the Goldman Sachs 29th Annual Communacopia Conference. "This is a total transformative business … It's a totally different thinking."

To help fuel that expectation, more powerful 5G Home customer premises equipment (CPE) outfitted with new chipsets that will support self-installs and accelerate customer acquisition efforts are still slated to debut in Q4 2020, Vestberg said. He reiterated that Verizon plans to have 5G Home operating in more than ten markets by year's end. Current 5G Home markets include Houston, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Verizon's grander plan is to deploy 5G Home – which is transitioning from Verizon's proprietary 5GTF transmission standard to the 3GPP's 5G NR transmission standard – to about 30 million US households in the next five to seven years.

New market, new money
Vestberg also believes that 5G Home, which guarantees speeds up to 300 Mbit/s, will "definitely compete" with wireline rivals, holding that the fixed wireless offering will be "less complicated" than cable broadband.

He also expects 5G Home, with its ability to be paired with Verizon's mobile service, to play well outside the Fios footprint. "It's a new market for us; it's new money," he said.

Likewise, the Verizon exec believes that 5G Home will resonate with small business customers. "It's not only for the home," Vestberg said.

Technically, 5G Home can be offered as soon as Verizon lights up millimeter-wave spectrum in a given market. The caveat is that Verizon will need to have access to a certain cluster of residential and small business customers within reach of those signals before it can start to properly market 5G Home, Vestberg said.

Vestberg wasn't asked when 5G Home will be a material contributor to Verizon's finances. However, Matt Ellis, Verizon's CFO, told MoffettNathanson this week that company execs don't excpect 5G Home to be a material top-line contributor in 2021, but that 2021 will be a year when Verizon starts to coalesce a core base of customers enablng 5G Home to deliver more meaningful revenue in the years go come.

Verizon is gearing up 5G Home activity as some analysts expect a surge in fixed wireless access (FWA). Counterpoint Research, for example, expects cumulative 5G CPE shipments for FWA to cross the 1 billion mark by 2030, representing a CAGR of 47% over the next decade.

Although cable operators are among the competitors that Verizon is targeting with 5G Home, fixed wireless broadband is also becoming an increasingly important part of MSO strategies. Of note, Cable One has recently invested in two such companies – Wisper Internet and NextLink – to help the operator extend its reach into less dense areas adjacent to or near its traditional wireline footprint.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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