Verizon confirmed Thursday afternoon that it will release a mobile 5G module that will snap on to the Motorola z3 to support its forthcoming 5G network.
The "Moto Mod 5g" was first leaked back in late May. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) says the module will operate on its mobile 5G network as that launches early in 2019. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said recently that the operator will need a software revision to update its network from its home-brewed fixed wireless 5GTF specification to the mobile 5G New Radio standard. (See Verizon Confirms Mobile 5G in 'Early' 2019 and Motorola Clips On 5G Phone Features.)
Verizon says it will reveal pricing and availabity of the Moto 5G module later in the year. Although it doesn't make much sense to make the module available widely before commercial mobile 5G service is switched, even if other operators -- cough AT&T cough -- beat Verizon to the punch. That's because there are no 5G roaming agreements in place yet, anyway. The z3 phone will cost $480 retail and launches this month.
The module will support Verizon's millimeter wave 28GHz 5G. In fixed tests, Verizon has so far reported download speeds of a gigabit and a range of up to 2,000 feet. It is not exactly clear how these results will translate to true mobile communications yet. But users will have a fallback since the phone proper will support 4G LTE. (See Millimeter Wave 5G: The Usain Bolt of Wireless? and America: A Tale of at Least Two 5Gs.)
Nonetheless, a snap-on module is a simple way to get early 5G into the hands of the people, since a z3 owner won't need to use the module very often initially. Verizon is planning to launch four 5G markets this year, with at least another 50 expected in 2019.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading