Verizon says it will launch commercial fixed 5G "in up to five markets" in 2018, starting with Sacramento, Calif. in the second half of the year.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) said Wednesday that it expects to launch 5G in between three to five markets in the US in the second half of 2018. In an analyst presentation on the launch, the operator describes the 2018 plan as the "initial commercial launch with a broader rollout" planned in 2019.
The operator says that its initial pre-commercial trials -- in 11 markets in the US -- have showed that it can deliver downloads of more than 1.4 Gigabits per second to nearly 600 Megabits per second at a distance of up to 1000 feet. At distances of between 1000 feet to 2000 feet, the downloads speeds drop to just below 1.4 Gbit/s down to just above 400Mbit/s. Beyond connection ranges of 2000 feet, the top download speeds are listed at just over 1 Gbit/s.
Verizon wants to deliver a FiOS-like experience with its fixed 5G service. This is why the focus is on delivering at or around gigabit connection speeds.
Verizon confirmed to Light Reading later on Wednesday evening that it used 28GHz equipment from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) for the initial deployments. The operator is not releasing any more details on further suppliers yet.
Verizon said -- in a presentation -- that 25% to 30% of the "residential broadband market" in the US is "addressable by 5G." Verizon says that could be up to 30 million households. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2016 there were 125.82 million across the US.
In the trials so far, Verizon said that it has served a 19 floor apartment building with the 28GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G connection. The operator has been testing "home units" and "optional outdoor antennas" in the tests. The operator has also been testing outdoor window-mount antennas that use an optical connection to an indoor WiFi router to distribute the signal. (See Verizon's Fixed 5G: Are You Ready for the Wireless Gig Rush?)
This is one method Verizon might use to combat difficulties the high-band signal has penetrating brick, concrete, and low-energy (low-e) glass. As Light Reading has previously reported, Verizon is unlikely to be able to push its fixed 5G service into more rural areas in the US, as mmWave 5G signals are disrupted by foliage. (See Could 5G Have Found Its Glass Ceiling? and Nokia Bell Labs & Verizon Stretch Fixed 5G to the Home.)
The 5G commercial launch will not have a material impact on Verizon's capital expenditures in 2018. "The company expects its full-year 2018 capital spending program to be consistent with the past several years," it said in a statment Wednesday. The operator has previously said that its 2017 capex will come between $16.8 billion and $17.5 billion.
Verizon is continuing to test its own fixed 5G specification in multiple markets. It will test the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio (NR) specification in the US in 2018.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading