Verizon Communications has tapped long-time tech partner Ericsson for a rollout of pre-standard 5G deployments that will occur in the second half of 2018.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but Ericsson will provide Verizon with the 5G-based core network, Radio Access Network gear, transport and associated services for launches in “select” markets.
The selection comes soon after Verizon, following several field trials that tapped into millimeter wave spectrum, announced it would launch 5G-based residential broadband service in as many as five markets in the second half of next year. Verizon estiamted that the deployment will cover about 30 million homes.
Though 5G will eventually support mobile services, the initial rollout will be for fixed wireless access. Verizon has not yet announced pricing and speed tiers for the coming offering.
Update: On Tuesday, Verizon opened a 5G Open Innovation Lab in New York’s Silicon Alley area, where the carrier will work with startups and academics on new use cases for Verizon’s pre-commercial 5G technology. Trials are getting started with six startups and two academic partners on board: Arvizio, BriefCam, Collinear, Holojam, Mapfit, NGCodec, NYU Future Reality Lab , and Columbia University’s Graphics and User Interfaces Lab.
“5G will change the way we work, interact, learn and play,” Ed Chan, SVP technology strategy and planning for corporate networking and technology at Verizon, said in a statement. “Through our work with Ericsson, we are creating a clear roadmap and building a robust ecosystem that will enable us to maximize the potential of 5G.”
In a blog post published soon after Verizon announced its 5G plans, Craig Moffett, analyst with MoffettNathanson, noted that the first market will be Sacramento, Calif., an out-of-region market (AT&T is the incumbent telco) for the company, at least with respect to Verizon’s wired broadband business.
“Verizon didn’t attach a timeframe to any of this, but with three to five markets slated for 2018, full national coverage would presumably take at least ten years, and perhaps quite a bit longer (America is a big place),” Moffett wrote. “Achieving full penetration, and hence their 5-9% national market share, would take longer still.”
He also pointed out that Verizon’s plan begs other questions, including whether AT&T will enter the same markets as Verizon with fixed wireless 5G, and if it will be economical for them to do so – or to skip that market and focus densification efforts in other markets. That would create an interesting patchwork deployment pattern for carriers.
“That would create a truly bizarre market dynamic that is almost unimaginable today, where each operator ‘owned’ different cities, not just for FWBB but also for 4G LTE,” Moffett added. “Remember, the necessary densification of 4G networks, by the earlier argument, arguably requires the revenue support of 5G FWBB, so if a carrier has to forgo the revenue opportunity of FWBB by virtue of not getting there first, then they would also have to forgo the network densification required for maintaining a state-of-the-art LTE network in that same market.”
He also forwarded the idea that a company like Crown Castle could serve as a neutral host that could lease facilities to multiple players, though that was not the scenario that Verizon outlined with respect to its 5G fixed wireless plan.