verizon 5gLike all national carriers today, Verizon is making huge investments in 5G. Among those carriers, Verizon is also the biggest champion of 5G fixed wireless, having launched its 5G Home service in 4 markets, offering a wireless alternative to wireline home broadband offers from cable and other competitors.

The service is off to a bit of a slow start. Despite promises of eventually taking the service to 30 markets, it’s still only available in small parts of four markets since it’s late 2018 launch. But according to Verizon executive Ronan Dunne, group CEO for Verizon Consumer, the company continues to have patience for what he believes will become a disruptive broadband service.

“I think it gives us the choice of being patient or disruptive as we choose,” commented Dunne in response to a question about Verizon’s 5G home deployment timeline at yesterday’s Bernstein virtual 36th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference. “The nature of it is that we have the flexibility of being market by market in the opportunities.”

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Verizon 5G Home Broadband Vision
Dunne laid out a vision for Verizon 5G Home during his interview, that foresees a time when consumers will buy home broadband service in the same way they buy wireless service today. It is just buying another line, or another device in Dunne’s vision, just like consumers do today with their wireless buying habits. 

“The nature of the line between the wireless business and wireline business is blurring,” said Dunne. “I don’t necessarily see them in the medium term as being two discreet markets anymore.”

Of course, Dunne and Verizon have a vested interest in hoping that vision becomes reality, given their investment in 5G and their wireless first posture as a company. Whether consumers and the marketplace agree is a subject of debate. And whether Verizon can deliver on that promise has yet to be seen as well. They currently have a relatively tiny 5G Home footprint and have been preaching patience for some time now.

Dunne outlined the delay as having a few culprits. Availability of new higher powered 5G Home CPE at scale has been an issue for a while. Verizon originally launched 5G home with proprietary 5G technology, and only recently with its October 2019 Chicago launch, offered 3GPP compliant 5G NR technology for 5G Home.

verizon 5g home cpe
Verizon 5G Home CPE (Source: Verizon)

Verizon has been waiting for higher powered 5G NR CPE to be shipped at scale, which should better enable home installs and provide better performance. Verizon and Dunne have evangelized 5G Home as eventually offering better performance than competing cable DOCSIS broadband services, including potential symmetrical gigabit broadband type performance. The service currently sells for $50 monthly with a qualifying Verizon Wireless service or $70 a month for non-Verizon Wireless users.

Dunne suggested that when this better 5G Home CPE is widely available, consumers would even be able to easily test drive 5G Home and compare its performance in real time to their current broadband service.

Home Broadband Just Another Device
When and if this promise is met at scale, meaning 5G Home is available to millions of subscribers, across multiple markets, Dunne sees consumer thinking and behavior towards home broadband changing. He envisions consumers thinking of home broadband as just like buying another wireless line from their Verizon plan.

Instead of a 3 or 4 line wireless plan, consumers will buy a 4 or 5 line plan, with one line being their home broadband. Or they think of home broadband as just another device, another smartphone if you will. If a customer moves, they simply take their home broadband with them, just like they take their smartphone today.

A lot needs to happen before this vision can be reality, not the least of which is Verizon dramatically expanding their 5G home footprint. Additionally, there is not a big enough 5G Home sample size to determine whether it is indeed a viable competitor to wireline broadband. “Minor details” to say the least. Not everyone shares Verizon’s enthusiasm for 5G fixed wireless.

Dunne remains excited. “If I had the opportunity to sell 5G Home in the last 12 weeks, I would have made out like a bandit,” he said.

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9 thoughts on “Verizon: As Lines Between Wireline and Wireless Blur, Home Broadband is Just Another Device

  1. This product would sell like hotcakes in places where truly high-speed broadband is unavailable from traditional sources, such as smaller cities and towns and rural areas. Unfortunately, this product will never be available to those potential customers because of the well-known deficiencies of millimeter-wave spectrum, which will never be used in those places.

    People in those smaller cities and towns and rural areas have been screaming for high-speed data to be available to them for years, but the situation is no better now than it has ever been despite billions being spent. 5G was touted as the “next big thing” to finally get high-speed data to those who want it but can’t get it, but so far, that promise has gone unfulfilled. Not even T-Mobile with their broad-reach, low-band 5G is capable of providing this service. What a surprise.

    1. Genn,
      T-Mobile started offering 5G in my rural "fly over" (Iowa) county just prior to Jan 1, and in my house 1.5 miles from their tower I get 40-60Mbps down and 30Mbps up. In my office located right next to another of their towers, I get 120Mbps down and 80Mbps up. I've heard second-hand stories of a customer using a T-Mobile home network device/router, but only getting 35/10 speeds. (don't know the distance involved)
      While not close to the Verizon touted speeds of 500+Mbps, much better than anything usually available in rural price cap areas.

      1. Those are good speeds. Around here in Oklahoma, their 5G speeds are pitiful compared to the existing LTE, sometimes just 12-24 Mbps compared to 150 on LTE. Are you using T-Mobile's 5G for your home internet service and if you are, how are you doing it? I have seen various cellular-based routers that use a SIM card for service but you have to do it kind-of on the sly with the carrier.

        1. I am a GM for a very small telco coop living in one of our old copper exchanges so still using our DSL service with 20Mbps down. We hope to deploy fiber in this (our last) exchange next year, after fiber construction in another exchange this summer. So 5G is competition to us…until we get fiber deployed. Our Board realized the importance of fiber deployment during the pandemic and have responded to the call. Fortunately for us, interest rates are low.
          Say Hi to my sister in OKC for me. 😉

          1. Good job getting fiber service out to your customers. Our local phone company, Dobson Telephone, has done nothing with fiber in any of their exchanges other than running it to their DSL boxes. That DSL is pretty bad from what I've heard. The neighboring phone company, Pioneer Telephone Co-Op on the other hand, completely did away with their DSL system and is overlaying fiber to their entire system, small towns, rural areas, the whole shebang. They now offer gigabit fiber to farms if you want it. And they offer a cellular LTE-based home internet service if they absolutely don't have fiber running by your property. They have been very aggressive in staying on top of technology, I applaud them for it. The costs are enormous but I guess the returns are justifying it.
            I haven't been to OKC since the pandemic began, hope your sister is staying safe 🙂

  2. The usage habits between the two 'devices' are worlds apart though. More and more people are getting closer to their 1TB usage caps on Charter/Comcast. There's zero chance consumers will bite on 5G as a home broadband option once they see the pricing as it relates to consumption. The carriers won't sell someone 50GB of tethering without charging an arm and leg.

    1. Just to be clear, 5G Home is not a tethered "hotspot" type service. It is a typical home broadband service delivered via fixed wireless, not mobile. I don't believe 5G Home has any data caps.

      1. "I don't believe 5G Home has any data caps."

        I still don't believe any of the existing 5G CPE is 3GPP compatible though, despite Verizon saying otherwise in October 2019 – https://www.telecompetitor.com/verizon-steps-up-i

        I say that because Verizon recently made this statement – https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/verizon-do

        Are current Chicago installs 5G 3GPP compatible or not? My guess is that they are not. If they're not, all 5G launches to date are essentially proof of concepts/aren't built to scale. You can't launch a home broadband product without using industry standard CPE without losing your butt on margins in the process.

        Is the 3GPP compatible CPE using Qualcomm chips? I certainly hope so.

  3. So I have 250 devices on my home network (at last count) and that would count as one subscription. I have 5 cell phone accounts each of which has to have its own subscription, except when I'm home and Wi-Fi calling means I don't need a subscription for each device. Xfinity is the opposite — I need one subscription and get access to all their hotspots around the country.

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