Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said the carrier is working toward a first quarter launch of its pre-commercial 5G field trials, and shed some light on just what those initial tests will look like.
Speaking at an investor conference on Tuesday, McAdam said Verizon is planning to bring “relatively small towns” into a pre-commercial 5G architecture in the first three months of 2017. McAdam stressed the early phases of Verizon’s 5G will not be mobile-oriented, and instead will use fixed wireless to deliver 1 gbps broadband service alongside an over-the-top bundle.
“Let’s be clear on what we mean by 5G – we call it wireless fiber,” McAdam said. “This will allow you to stop anywhere from 200 feet to 1000 feet from the home … and make it a wireless last leg into the home.”
McAdam said the carrier “won’t be charging for that service, but we’ll be learning a lot” from those early deployments. According to McAdam, part of what the carrier will be figuring out with the trials is the distance between the transceiver and receiver in a 5G environment.
Though he noted the 3GPP 5G standards likely won’t come out until 2019 or 2020, McAdam said he believes Verizon will be two to three years ahead of the competition thanks to both these early trials and deployments and the carrier’s recent XO Communications deal. The latter brought Verizon “several hundred megahertz of millimeter wave bandwidth” that it will be able to use for rapid deployments in the coming months and years, he said.
“The time to market is very compressed for us,” McAdam said.
In his comments, McAdam also addressed growing chatter about cable MVNOs in the wireless space, noting he believes they will have some impact on the wireless space but that he’d still do the deals again if given the chance.
“MVNOs have been great for us over the years,” he said. “They have very strong margins and I would certainly have the cable companies on Verizon where we get that margin rather than someone else providing (the network) to them.”
On the incoming presidential administration, McAdam took a jab at T-Mobile and Sprint CEOs John Legere and Marcelo Claure, noting Verizon is in good position because it neither got into Twitter spats with the candidates nor publicly came out in favor of one or the other.
Like T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter earlier this week, McAdam said it would be nice to see corporate tax reforms passed by the new administration, specifying that it “would be great” to get in the 15 percent range but noting that kind of figure was not expected. McAdam said Verizon would also be fairly indifferent to increased M&A activity in wireless dropping the number of carriers from four to three, and would respond to cable actions in wireless as they come.
On the FCC side of things, McAdam said the reversal of Title II or privacy regulations likely wouldn’t impact Verizon’s ability to monetize its assets, which he said the carrier plans to do either way using a combination of data aggregation and data analytics to strategically place ads.