Verizon CFO Matthew Ellis told an investor conference the company’s 5G trials using millimeter wave spectrum are exceeding expectations in “commercial-type tests.” He said spectrum propagation has been better than expected in trials leading up to the company’s decision to deploy 5G fixed wireless in up to five U.S. markets.
“The distance that we see that you can get over gigabit speeds, north of 2,000 feet, is part of the economics of the business case,” Ellis said, adding that it is still too soon to be certain about how far signals will travel in all scenarios. “There was a lot of questions going into it, and I think there’s still different people with different views in the larger ecosystem around the overall propagation,” he said.
Millimeter wave spectrum is a new technology for Verizon, as it is for others working to develop 5G networks. Carriers do not know for sure how far signals will propagate over shorter wavelengths, but Verizon is encouraged by its trials so far.
“We’ve run this in the real-world environment, in different topographies, and we proved that you don’t need direct line of sight,” said Ellis. “We’ve proved that you can get to at least 20 floors on [multiple dwelling units], not just five or six floors. And so the addressable market here is a pretty good size. Outside of our Fios-served markets, we see approximately 30 million homes that, based off the results of this test, are addressable by this residential broadband product.”
Verizon plans to offer broadband over 5G in select U.S. markets next year, starting with Sacramento, CA. Although the 5G standard is far from finalized, vendors have enough knowledge of the emerging standard to develop 5G radio equipment. Ericsson said this week that it will be Verizon’s 5G equipment supplier for its deployments next year.
Verizon plans to use 5G to offer broadband internet service, and Ellis said that 5G could also deliver video and voice services to some customers.
“For those people who continue to want to bundle their video with their broadband, we’ll have that,” Ellis said. “Now how we deliver it, it won’t be your traditional linear TV product. It’ll be a more over-the-top product, and the exact nature of that OTT product is — more details to come there.”