John Stratton, executive vice president and president of operations for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), talking at the Deutsche Bank 25th Annual Media & Telecom Conference in Florida, said that Verizon will deliver fixed 5G in 2018. It is working on customer trials in 11 US cities now. (See Verizon Fixed 5G Tests to Top 3Gbit/s? and Verizon to Start Fixed 5G Customer Trials in April.)
Stratton promised a "meaningful commercial deployment of 5G" in 2018 from Verizon. He was cagey about what exact services the fixed system will provide, but it seems clear that a wireless alternative to cable/DSL services is high on Verizon's priority list.
"The way we're thinking about 5G... the ability to leverage the full scale of our business is an important factor," Stratton added.
The customer trials, Stratton says, will allow Verizon to better understand the signal propagation characteristics of the fixed 5G system and "the load per node." Verizon has previously said that it has been testing at ranges of up to 1,500 feet in diverse environments for its fixed option.
Stratton says the tests will help Verizon establish the cost of deployment and how much it should charge for the 5G service. "Where 5G works best is in those places that are most densely populated," Stratton said, suggesting that big cities will be first to get 5G zones.
Interestingly, Verizon isn't one of the operators pushing to deliver true mobile 5G in 2019, despite sprinting ahead with its home-developed fixed option. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) will this week decide whether to approve plans to accelerate the development of the 5G New Radio (NR) specifications, which could allow operators to launch commercial services as soon as 2019, but Verizon does not support the move. (See Telefónica's Blanco: 5G NR 'Acceleration' Is 'Big Mistake'.)
"We think that's a little bit optimistic, to be honest," said Stratton. He noted that the market will need to be "seeded" with compatible handsets for starters.
Stratton states that "early deployments" will start late in 2019, or into 2020.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading