The head of Verizon's consumer business said that the operator's newest batch of unlimited pricing plans are primarily designed for 4G users, and that Verizon could launch different pricing options specific to 5G services in the next year or two.
Verizon's Ronan Dunne described the operator's new unlimited pricing options -- which stretch across five different plans -- as "really a 4G play today." He said the plans can be used by early adopters for 5G, "but from a scale point of view it's very much 4G."
That will change, Dunne said, as Verizon builds out its 5G coverage footprint. "What we will see over the next 18 to 24 months is the delivery of distinct 5G experiences," he said during an appearance at an investor event today. "And honestly, whether that's a premium on the standard plan or whether it's specific, tailored plans, I can envisage for example a gamer's plan. I can envisage a day trader's plan, someone who wants to leverage ultra-low latency, certainty of access. So what might happen is some of the plan features will evolve, or it might be that some services will be B2B2C so that it will come with ultra-low latency when you buy an online gaming package from a third-party gaming company. So I think we'll see more evolution of the models."
Such comments dovetail with similar statements from executives at AT&T, who have hinted at the possibility of charging for 5G based on speeds.
Importantly, Dunne said one of the first 5G spaces that Verizon might invest in is the "live entertainment" space. He hinted at 5G technologies at stadiums that would allow attendees to view information about players on their phones via 5G-powered real time augmented reality -- essentially allowing fans to hold up their phone and see players' stats on top of live video from the venue. Already Verizon partner Intel has released a detailed white paper along these lines.
Cheaper 5G phones
And in terms of phones, Dunne acknowledged that Verizon's 5G lineup today sits squarely in the "premium" category (meaning, really expensive). He said that Verizon would offer a "significant" number of "mid price point" 5G phones in the early part of next year -- he said prices for those phones would sit around $800.
Finally, Dunne again addressed a nagging question about Verizon's 5G buildout strategy, which currently focuses on deploying small pockets of coverage in outdoor, downtown metro areas. Dunne explained that those are the areas where Verizon sees the most traffic, which is why the operator is deploying 5G in its millimeter-wave spectrum there first. But he reiterated that "we will have nationwide coverage of 5G," though he did not say when or how Verizon would expand its 5G footprint.