Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said the carrier believes 5G technology could be launched as early as next year, but noted the company is still reviewing its business options for packaging the service.
According to Shammo, 5G technology is nearly ready to go, but its launch depends on the FCC’s clearing of high-band spectrum.
“It’s here, it’s now,” Shammo said. “It doesn’t have to wait for 2020, but it all hinges on the availability of that spectrum.”
Shammo also revealed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was recently at Verizon’s Basking Ridge, N.J. headquarters to view a demonstration of one of the company’s 5G trials.
Shammo said Verizon is currently testing 5G in five different cities across the country. The tests in Basking Ridge, he said, involve a van that travels around Verizon’s headquarters delivering 5G service with speeds of up to 1 gbps to the building.
The trials are currently being conducted on 28 GHz spectrum, using a combination of trial licenses from the FCC and 28 GHz spectrum that came with the carrier’s recent deal with XO Communications, Shammo said.
In order to facilitate the accelerated roll out of 5G services, Shammo said Verizon has asked the FCC to clear ultra high-band spectrum in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39GHz bands for the new technology.
Verizon has also encouraged the commission to unify the 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands into a single 3 GHz swath of continuous spectrum that would support the creation of multiple licenses with bandwidths of 200 MHz or more that would be “attractive” to industry players looking for more bandwidth.
Shammo’s comments echoed earlier sentiments from Verizon vice president of Wireless Policy Development Carla Rath, who said the FCC’s swift action on the matter will be critical to facilitating the carrier’s 2017 launch of 5G services.
Unlike its roll out of LTE technology several years ago, Shammo said the launch of 5G will not be a heavy lift in terms of an infrastructure buildout.
“This is not a replacement of LTE, it’s an add on,” Shammo said. “Don’t think of this as a multi-billion dollar launch of new technology, it’s not that at all. This will ride over the current structure of the LTE network.”
According to Shammo, Verizon expects to realize cost savings following the roll out equal to or greater than the four to five fold reduction in costs it saw with the transition from CDMA to LTE.
On tap for 2016
Throughout this year, Shammo said Verizon will continue its densification efforts and will roll out several new “differentiated products” akin to its hum and go90 offerings. Shammo said the company is also looking to improve efficiency in its wireless business to realize cost savings.
The company will also work to grow its go90 viewership through new content deals and drive increased data usage across the board, he said.