5G and Beyond

Verizon Bigs Up 5G, Small Cells for Q2

Verizon says that its millimeter wave 5G tests are now underway in the US as it spends to densify its wireless network overall.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) announced this spring that it is starting fixed wireless 5G tests at 28GHz in 11 cities in the US. "We're now up and running in eight out of the 11 commercial trials on millimeter wave," CFO Matt Ellis said on the second-quarter call.

Verizon has previously said that its mmWave 5G tests have bust through the gigabit-a-second rate over the air, but Ellis demurred on giving concrete numbers on the current tests for now. "It's going to be later in the year before we start to see results out of those trials," he said.

Verizon is working with Samsung Corp. , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and others on the current tests. Ellis didn't say which cities are in operation now.

"We're confident we'll have commercial product in market during 2018," Ellis said. Verizon is expected to start its 5G service with a fixed offering, but Ellis said that Big Red is looking at both fixed and mobility models for the future.

Ellis said that Verizon's small cell buildout for 4G LTE will actually be helpful as it moves to 5G. "As we put the densification in place for 4G, we're doing it in mind of 5G, using the same dark fiber," he stated.

The small cell buildout will not affect the anticipated capital expenditure (capex) spend of between $16.8 billion and $17.5 billion for 2017. Ellis didn't, however, say how many small cells Verizon has so far installed. (See Verizon Looks Ahead to 5G as 4G Competition Affects Q4.)

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"We have small cell builds in all of the top metro markets," Ellis said.

Verizon posted operating revenue of $30.55 billion for the second quarter, up slightly from $30.53 billion last year. Net income grew to $4.36 billion -- or $1.07 per share -- in the quarter, from $702 million, or $0.17 cents per share, 12 months ago. Excluding items, EPS came in at $0.96, which was in line with Wall Street expectations.

Overall wireless revenue was $21.3 billion in the second quarter, down 1.9% from the same quarter a year ago. The operator added 614,000 postpaid phone customers and trails AT&T and T-Mobile on customer additions for the second quarter.

Verizon's shares were trading up 6.75% at $47.40 on the earnings news at the time of publication.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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