Verizon CFO Expects Mobile 5G Service 'Sometime' in 2019

Dan Jones
10/23/2018
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Verizon's CFO said Tuesday that he expects standard-based mobile 5G to arrive "sometime" in 2019, as compatible network equipment becomes available.

Verizon has previously said that it would launch mobile service based on the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio specification in early 2019. CFO Matt Ellis said on Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s third quarter call on Tuesday morning that the operator will be ready "to be first" with mobile 5G "as soon as" compatible 5G NR network equipment (including customer premises equipment) is available. (See Verizon Confirms Mobile 5G in 'Early' 2019 and Verizon's First 5G Mobile Device? It's a Snap!)

Ellis noted that Verizon is "really dependent" on vendors to make 5G NR equipment available for deployment. "We'll see how soon that happens," the CFO noted.

On the device side, mobile 5G smartphones are expected in the first half of 2019. Although devices like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s mobile "puck" and Motorola Mobility LLC 's 5G snap-on module could be early outliers. (See A 5G Device Timeline for 2018 & Beyond.)

Verizon has initially launched its fixed "5G Home" fixed broadband service this October in four markets in the US. The 300-Mbit/s to 1-GBit/s "white glove" professional installation offering uses Verizon's own 5GTF spec. The 5GTF specification is said to be software upgradeable to the 5G NR, although rivals have charged that Verizon will have to change out equipment to use the 5G NR spec. (See AT&T: We're Not Only Focused on mmWave for 5G.)

Ellis says that there will be a "larger rollout" of 5G in 2019. Although, he told analysts that -- like CEO Hans Vestberg (who didn't make himself heard on the earnings call) -- he didn't expect capital expenditure surges because of further 5G deployments.

For the year, Verizon is predicting a range of 16.6 billion to 17 billion, down from $17 billion to $17.8 billion. Ellis says that the operator will reveal 2019 capex expectations early next year.

For the quarter, consolidated revenue was up 2.7% at $32.21 billion for the quarter ending September 30.

Verizon's total wireless revenues were up 6.5% year-on-year at $23 billion. The operator added 515,000 retail postpaid customers in the third quarter, and 510,000 of those were smartphone customers under monthly contracts.

Fios revenues were up 1.6% up to $3 billion. Fios Internet broadband netted 54,000 new subs for the quarter. Fios Video, meanwhile lost 63,000 subscribers for the quarter.

Ellis expects this trend to continue as "cord-cutters or never corders" look for a fast connection to stream their entertainment.

Verizon's media group, Oath, meanwhile doesn't look like it will meet its $10 billion revenue expectations for 2020. The unit booked $1.8 billion in revenue for the third quarter, down almost 7% on the year ago quarter. Long-time CEO Tim Armstrong left Oath in September. (See Armstrong Quits Verizon as It Breaks Oath ⎼ Report.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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