At a Verizon investor meeting today in New York, Verizon offered a glimpse into the company’s future. That future includes 30 Verizon mobile 5G markets by the end of 2019.
These markets will be lit up with standards-based 5G NR service, the company announced and will include lighting up an entire market. Verizon executives claimed these will be the first true 5G mobile markets, dismissing AT&T’s claim (although not by name) to be first with mobile 5G. The distinction, Verizon notes, is they are lighting up entire markets, not just one or two cell sites within a market.
“By our definition of a commercial market, there are zero markets out there except four that were done by Verizon,” said Ronan Dunne, President of Verizon Wireless. “When I say I’m going to a market that doesn’t mean I’m lighting up a cell, that means I’m showing up and I’m selling 5G.”
Verizon also announced they will have three 5G devices ready in the first half of 2019, including the recently announced 5G-capable Galaxy S10 smartphone by Samsung. A Motorola handset will also be available, as well as a Mi-Fi mobile hotspot device. Additional devices will be coming in the second half of the year.
“We, I reckon are 18 months ahead in the adoption phase in the space of devices,” Ronan said. “We’re going straight to best in class.”
A Mobile Broadband Only Future?
Verizon also offered some thoughts regarding the future of broadband, with some viewpoints suggesting mobile-only broadband will be a growing trend that they intend to capitalize on. During an investor presentation, a couple of Verizon executives suggested mobile-broadband substitution in a 5G world will accelerate, with consumers opting for a single broadband connection to power their life.
When pressed on this point during the Q&A session, Verizon execs hedged a bit. It made for quite an interesting bit of real-time debate.
“We want our customers to define what broadband they need, some might need 4G, some might need fiber, some might need 5G,” said Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg. “That’s what we see ourselves doing and that’s the platform we’re building with intelligent edge network.”
But Dunne doubled down a bit on the mobile-broadband substitution trend.
“I think its almost predicated on a consumer insight that says people won’t buy wireless and wireline in five years’ time, it will be connectivity, ubiquitous connectivity,” he said. “In a few years time I’m not sure I’ll be selling a residential or a mobility play in many instances.”
But Tami Erwin, President-Wireline Operations, which includes Fios operations, chimed in with some clarification of her own. “When we think about the ability to expand fiber or internet connectivity to across the U.S., having choices of how we do that is going to be really important,” she said. “Our objective is get internet to everybody, give them choice on speeds, and give them choice on how they consume content.”
Erwin highlighted video as a wild card and softly suggested that video will be a driver for the continued need of wireline broadband, fiber specifically.