Verizon and Walmart are in discussions about some kind of 5G partnership, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
According to the WSJ, the companies are looking at a number of ways to use the technology, including Walmart installing 5G antennas in its stores for Verizon's network. The companies are also looking at ways Verizon's 5G network could aid Walmart in its efforts to offer healthcare services to shoppers. Such services could include registering customers via their phone when they enter a store, or to stream video visits with doctors over a phone.
The WSJ didn't provide many other details on the potential partnership, and it's unclear whether the companies will reach any kind of agreement.
Why this matters
That Verizon may be in discussions with Walmart about 5G isn't a surprise. The operator has hailed 5G as opening new opportunities in the enterprise sector, and 5G equipment vendors like Ericsson and Nokia have laid out a number of 5G use cases involving the retail sector. And Verizon has already inked 5G partnerships with the likes of the NFL and The New York Times.
Moreover, Walmart has been investing in a variety of new technologies. For example, it is reportedly entertaining a major investment into edge computing in part to blunt the rise of online retailing giant Amazon. Indeed, Verizon has already announced an edge computing partnership with Amazon.
And Amazon, for its part, just opened its first full-size, cashier-less grocery store in Seattle, after acquiring retailer Whole Foods, in a clear attack at Walmart's core business.
While initial applications of 5G in the retail space could fall into vague areas like healthcare and edge computing, it's reasonable to assume that wireless technology will increasingly make its way into the shopping experience on a widespread basis.