Verizon is looking to the future with a 5G launch and revenues from Internet of Things (IoT) as overall handset sales decline.
On 5G, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is now moving out of the technical phase of its trials. "We will be the first operator to launch fixed 5G in the US," retiring CFO Fran Shammo said on the operator's third-quarter earnings call Thursday. (See Verizon Issues First 5G Radio Spec and Verizon Issues First 5G Radio Spec.)
Verizon is now planning a "commercial pilot" in 2017. This will span several cities, with different types of services and different vendors, the CFO said. (See Verizon CFO: Eat Our (Fixed) 5G Dust!)
"The big issue that still has to be answered, quite honestly, is the scaling of the technology," Shammo said.
Verizon wants to deliver at least 1 Gbit/s over the air to the home with fixed 5G. So the live commercial pilot will help it determine how many 5G radios, which will likely be in the form of tiny 5G small cell basestations, it needs to provide that capacity in different environments. (See Verizon Hits 1-Gig+ in 5G Trials, Eyes Early Applications.)
Verizon could offer commercial 5G service on a more widespread basis from 2018 onwards. "That's going to enter into a whole new growth trajectory for the entire industry," Shammo said in the Q&A session after the presentation.
Verizon is also seeing an uptick in IoT revenues, which were up 24% at 217 million for the third quarter. Shammo said that that was mainly driven by telematics and its plug-in "Hum" connected car product.
In fact, tablets and the IoT sector were the bright spots in Verizon's quarter for device adds. Verizon lost 36,000 phone customers in the quarter. Shammo said was mainly in the "basic" handset arena but admitted that the Galaxy Note issue and iPhone 7 shortages had hurt this quarter.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading