Verizon CEO Expects Standard 5G Phones First, '5G Home' CPE to Follow in 2019

Verizon expects that its first 5G devices available supporting the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G NR standard will be a pair of smartphones on the market by mid-2019, but doesn't expect standards-based "5G Home" customer premises equipment to become available until the second half of 2019.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CEO Hans Vestberg talked up the operator's next-generation ambitions during the company's Q4 earnings call Tuesday morning. He promised "lots of mobile 5G and 5G Home" [Verizon's current, pre-standard fixed 5G offering] during the question and answer portion of today's call. (See Verizon's Home-Grown 5G Arrives Today.)

Vestberg says that mobile 3GPP chipsets for smartphones will be arriving in the first half of 2019, with a smartphone from Samsung Corp. and a snap-on 5G module -- the z3 from Motorola -- for Verizon's 5G mobile network. (See A 5G Device Timeline for 2019,)

Verizon has four markets in the US built out with its fixed wireless 5G Home service, which uses Verizon's own 5GTF specification and Samsung-made CPE. The operator has previously said it will move to the 5G 3GPP standard "sometime" this year. Vestberg noted on the call that Verizon will offer the initial 5G smartphones "as soon as those are ready." (See Verizon CFO Expects Mobile 5G Service 'Sometime' in 2019.)

Verizon executives on the call, however, didn't offer any specifics on the 5G buildout plans for 2019 so far, which Vestberg expects to support both its mobile and residential 5G services. CFO Matt Ellis did say, however, that expected capital expenditures for 2019 will be in the range of $17 billion to $18 billion, an increase on the $16.7 billion Verizon said it spend in 2018.

Vestberg called the plans "consistent" and "methodical." (See Verizon's Vestberg Mum on 2019 Capex but Ebullient on 5G Prospects.)

Verizon added 653,000 monthly (postpaid) wireless subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2018.

For the quarter, Verizon reported flat net income of $2.1 billion, while sales were up 1% year-on-year, to $34.4 billion.

On the call, Vestburg said the company aims to fully roll out its restructuring, announced last year, in the second quarter of 2019 as "Verizon 2.0." (See Verizon Restructures in Bid for 5G Growth.)

Verizon took a charge of $6.7 billion on its Oath Media business and layoff costs in the fourth quarter (See Verizon Faces $6.7B in Q4 Charges on Oath Biz & Layoffs, Verizon Media Cuts Jobs, Has No Growth Plans to Share.)

Verizon shares are down 3.07%, at $53.38 each, in Tuesday morning trading.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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