Verizon Preps Fixed 5G but Mobile Gigabit-Speed Downloads May Not Arrive Until 2019

Verizon said Tuesday morning that it has started deploying commercial nodes to support the launch of its fixed broadband 5G network in three or more US markets, in the back half of 2018.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has promised to initially deliver a fixed wireless 5G service that provides gigabit downloads over the air -- using high-band millimeter wave spectrum -- in the second half of this year. The operator is using its 5GTF specification to try and beat competitors waiting for standard 5G products based on the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) New Radio (NR) standard, which are anticipated in 2019.

"We are quickly approaching the launch date of our residential broadband service" Verizon CFO Matt Ellis said on the operator's first-quarter earnings call Tuesday morning of Verizon's initial 5G foray.

"We continue to be very excited about the opportunities that 5G has," Ellis said.

The CFO said that the pre-commercial trials are now done. He stated that Verizon had shown propagation "over 2,000 feet," for the 28GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) technology it will use for fixed wireless initially, and mobile services eventually. (See Millimeter Wave 5G: The Usain Bolt of Wireless?.)

Sacramento is the only 5G market that Verizon has named so far. Ellis says that the other markets will be named closer to the launch. He notes, however, that 5G "commercial nodes" are being deployed in these initial unnamed cities now. (See Is Atlanta the Next 5G Market for Verizon?.)

Verizon expects to support mobility with its network when the NR specification products are available. "It's a mixed-use asset," Ellis said.

Chris Schmidt, Verizon's executive director of device technology, told Light Reading in February, that Verizon will be able to reuse the same towers and "generally" the same infrastructure from its fixed wireless deployments, which use its own 5GTF specification for the 5G NR services. "Obviously, there's going to be some infrastructure changes that need to happen," Schmidt said at the time. (See Verizon: We'll Be First With Fixed & Mobile 5G.)

Exactly when 5G NR-compatible devices, however, still appears to be somewhat up in the air. "We expect to be getting the CPE [customer premises equipment], based on the NR standard, probably next year," Ellis said on the call.

Ellis was questioned on the call about whether 5G will expand Verizon's 5G spending for the year. Ellis stressed again that the rollout is factored into the $17 billion to $17.8 billion spending for the year.

"I don't see us having a massive acceleration in capex," Ellis said. "This is not the same thing as when we adopted 4G and went from CDMA to LTE ... This is a very different rollout."

Ellis was also guarded about the expected forthcoming millimeter wave auction from the FCC. "We will certainly take a look at any auction that comes up," Ellis said. (See Trump Bill Paves Way for US 5G Spectrum Auction Later in 2018.)

He stressed, however, that Verizon believes it has the spectrum assets to get its 5G mobility deployment underway -- without additional mmWave or lower-band spectrum.

The 5G mobile rollout will be "very much heavily focused on urban areas," initially, Ellis said.

For the first quarter, Verizon reported revenue of $31.8 billion, up 6.6% year-on-year. First-quarter net income was boosted by tax reform, and rose 32% to $4.55 billion, compared to $3.45 billion last year. earnings per share were $1.11, compared to $0.85 last year.

Verizon shares are trading up $1.09 (2.24%) to $49.75 on Tuesday morning on the earnings report.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

kq4ym 5/3/2018 | 8:26:14 AM
Re: 1st 5G phones in 1H19 Watching and waiting might be the agenda for the coming 5G plans and devices as everyone is maneuvering to take a place here. Curious though about what's the real story and how expensive might be as noted that there's "to be some infrastructure changes that need to happen," as broadcast ranges are hoped to be increased while plans still are associated to be urban 5G setups.
TV Monitor 4/25/2018 | 8:58:26 PM
Re: 1st 5G phones in 1H19 There are "multiple" variants of X50 chipset, some does Sub 6 Ghz only, some does both Sub-6 Ghz and 28 Ghz. I too was shocked to find out about this.

Anyhow, the X50 won't be available to OEMs until next year, so it takes some time for products using X50 to come out.

So the first 5G phone would be the Galaxy S10 5G Edition due out in March 2019(Both Sub 6 Ghz and 28 Ghz), followed by a Huawei 5G phone in 3rd quarter 2019(Sub 6 Ghz only). X50 phones not due out until 2020 to coincide with the Chinese and Japanese launch of Sub 6 Ghz 5G launch.
DanJones 4/25/2018 | 8:09:10 PM
Re: 1st 5G phones in 1H19 Checked with Qualcomm for another story I'm working on, 28Ghz & sub6 smartphone support in first wave of Qualcomm chipsets not 1H 2020
TV Monitor 4/25/2018 | 2:55:44 PM
Re: 1st 5G phones in 1H19 Yes, the Galaxy S10 5G edition due out in March 2019 to coincide with the Korean 5G launch.

This will be the only phone compatible with 28 Ghz 5G until 2020, since 5G phones using Qualcomm's 28 Ghz X50 won't hit markets until 1H 2020.
DanJones 4/24/2018 | 5:09:39 PM
1st 5G phones in 1H19 1st 5G phones in 1H19, that has to factor in of course.
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