Verizon first launched its 5G Home fixed wireless service across 4 markets in 2018. The carrier has been adding new markets since then and had a stated goal of eventually reaching 30 million homes with the cable broadband alternative in seven years.
But during the Citi 2021 Global TMT West Virtual Conference today, Ronan Dunne, EVP & Group CEO – Verizon Consumer, hedged a bit on that path. Dunne made it clear that 5G Home fixed wireless is dependent on 5G mobile plans, and that Verizon’s new 4G Home fixed wireless should very much be a part of the carrier’s fixed wireless story.
“I’m not building a fixed wireless access network,” said Dunne, expressing a bit of frustration regarding a question of whether the company is on target to hit that 30 million homes passed goal. “I’m building a 5G mobility network with a second use case where it’s appropriate, where it covers 5G Office and 5G Home, so we just shouldn’t lose sight of that.”
Dunne says that he believes they are still on track, but the reality on the ground has Verizon constantly updating its 5G mobility strategy of where and how the service gets deployed. That reality impacts the ramp up of 5G Home, potentially slowing its deployment. The service is currently in 12 markets, with very limited footprints in those markets.
Dunne added a new fixed wireless angle to Verizon’s mix, suggesting the carrier’s recently launched 4G Home fixed wireless service should also be included in a discussion of the company’s overall fixed wireless goals. The carrier’s 5G Home service and the goals associated with it pre-date the launch of the new 4G LTE based fixed wireless service, that Verizon initially said would target smaller markets.
“One of the other things that I think is important for people to think about is that as we build out the 5G network, we’ve also built 4G Home and we’ve seen significant response to that,” said Dunne. “My addressable market for Home, for me, has always been not limited to the specific of a 5G fixed wireless, but a broader ambition to be able to participate in the home.”
Dunne did admit that 4G fixed wireless is a very different product, offering peak speeds of 50 Mbps for now, compared to its 5G Home product which claims average speeds of 300 Mbps. Nevertheless, Dunne sees this broader footprint of 4G and 5G fixed wireless combined with mobility, as a formidable competitor to cable broadband, and its fixed wireless homes passed goal attainment should be agnostic to the underlying wireless technology.
Of course, it’s ironic that at least two of those potential cable competitors, Comcast and Charter, can basically match Verizon’s product portfolio of home broadband and mobility, with Verizon to thank for the mobility component. Both have MVNO agreements to access Verizon’s wireless network, including its 5G network.