Verizon's Vestberg Sticks With mmWave for 5G

Dan Jones
9/19/2019

Verizon will stick with millimeter wave (mmWave) for its 5G plans for the foreseeable future, CEO Hans Vestberg declared Thursday when discussing the company's 5G plans at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York.

"We can launch nationwide with millimeter wave," the CEO insisted. Verizon is the only US carrier solely dedicated to the highband (28GHz) approach to 5G for now. AT&T and T-Mobile plan to launch lowband 5G networks next year, along with limited mmWave deployments. Sprint has midband 5G launched so far.

Highband mmWave has terrific download speeds but lousy range. "Now we have 2 gigs [gigabits per second] on the phones," Vestberg said. The range, however, can veer from 2,000 feet to 500 feet and the network can't deliver flashy streaming videos -- or, in fact, any kind of service -- indoors.

"Any spectrum will have 5G in the future," Vestberg says. Verizon will also offer dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) in the future. DSS will allow operators to share spectrum instantaneously and simultaneously between 4G and 5G networks. But not for mmWave, since that doesn't share spectrum with any 4G networks.

"The C-Band does look interesting," Vestberg says. Timing on a US C-Band auction has not yet been announced.

Vestberg says that a total of 30 5G mobile cities will be launched by Verizon this year. He also plans to restart Verizon's fixed wireless 5G Home service later this year. 5G Home currently is in four US markets.

Vestberg insisted that the mmWave-based service will be "self-install". This would be more economical than the "white glove" -- a.k.a. professional -- installation model that 5G Home started with in October 2018.

The final piece of the 5G puzzle won't be ready until 2022. "We're rethinking how they do a factory, how they do a hospital," Vestberg says.

For now, however, Verizon will continue "waiving" the $10 premium it wants to charge on its mobile 5G service. Vestberg didn't say how long that deal will remain for early 5G customers.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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