Verizon 5G Home Fixed Wireless Forecast

This year was an important one for Verizon fixed wireless access (FWA) as the company turned up the service using C-band spectrum and 5G in major metro markets. The company had one million customers for the service, known as Home Internet, as of the third quarter and most of those were added this year, said Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg at an investor conference today where he detailed how this happened.

Previously Verizon had deployed FWA in some markets using its millimeter wave spectrum, which offers high speeds but over relatively short distances, and in other bands using earlier-generation LTE technology.

The C-band spectrum that Verizon paid top dollar for in 2021 is considered mid-band spectrum, which is seen as offering the optimum mixture of speed and coverage. The company began deploying 5G service in the band early this year, and the company aims to get the most out of its investment by using the spectrum to support 5G mobile and FWA, as well as private wireless services aimed at business customers.

Verizon 5G Fixed Wireless

Verizon has been aggressive with its 5G FWA pricing, offering service for as little as $25 a month. The best pricing is for customers that bundle FWA and mobile service together and although he didn’t cite specifics, Vestberg said some customers are bundling and churn is lower for those who do.

He also noted that the service has “high customer satisfaction.”

Adding to the service’s appeal, according to Vestberg, is the fast self-installation time. The customer premises equipment (CPE) is shipped to the customer and can be set up in less than five minutes. Customers spend the majority of the five minutes finding their Wi-Fi password, he noted.

The C-band 5G FWA service supports speeds of at least 300 Mbps, Vestberg said. And there is room for that to grow, considering that C-band deployments to date have used only 60 MHz of the average 160 MHz that the company obtained nationwide. Some of the spectrum is still being repurposed by the satellite providers that previously held it, but Verizon should have the full band available nationwide by the end of next year.

As the first 60 MHz is deployed, the company is preparing every cellsite to support 200 MHz connectivity in the future, so upgrades to use the full band should be quick and easy, he said.

To put plans in perspective, the company plans to deploy service in the C-band in 402 markets but is only active in 76 today. By and large, those are the nation’s largest markets. To date, Verizon’s rural deployments have relied on earlier-generation service but that will change as the company builds out 5G in the C band, which will open up opportunities to sell FWA in rural areas where there is less competition with fiber broadband.

Moving forward, Verizon will shift to a standalone 5G core, which will support higher speeds and new services, Vestberg said.

Looking even further out, Vestberg anticipates a day, perhaps 10 years from now, when the company may split cellsites where needed to double capacity in response to increased demand for FWA – an option he called “success based” fixed wireless access.

Vestberg made his comments at the UBS Global TMT conference. A replay will be available at this link.

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