Verizon on Wednesday announced plans for the industry’s first commercial introduction of wireless 5G residential broadband service in as many as five U.S. markets late next year.
The nation’s largest wireless carrier conducted 5G trials in 11 markets this year and credited customer responses and its confidence in millimeter-wave spectrum technology for the initial fixed wireless commercial launch.
Verizon’s 5G residential service is expected to debut in Sacramento, Calif., in the second half of 2018. Ultimately, the company expects to roll out the service in three to five markets next year. Verizon said details about the launch and additional markets would be announced later.
Officials touted the wireless service’s unprecedented speeds and potential to revolutionize mobile, Internet of Things, 3D and virtual reality applications. The company projected the initial market opportunity for 5G residential broadband to be about 30 million households throughout the U.S.
Verizon CTO Hans Vestberg said that the launches would also “provide a strong framework for accelerating 5G’s future deployment on the global standards.”
“This is a landmark announcement for customers and investors who have been waiting for the 5G future to become a reality,” Vestberg said in a statement.
Verizon officials told analysts at a meeting Wednesday that 25 to 30 percent of the nation’s homes could be served by 5G fixed wireless and that it set a goal of achieving 20 to 30 percent of the overall market share, according to a note from MoffettNathanson.
The note said that although urban areas would likely see the first 5G services, rural areas could eventually be attractive for fixed wireless as well. Full national coverage, however, would likely take at least 10 years, analysts wrote, with Verizon’s market share goals taking even longer.
Other wireless companies, the note added, are likely to challenge Verizon both for overall market share and, potentially, in individual cities. But the analysis warned that market factors could lead some operators to skip cities in which competitors beat them to 5G.
“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,” analysts wrote.
AT&T also tested fixed wireless 5G technology this year. The company expanded to three new cities in the fall following its initial test launch in Austin last June.
Although industry observers have disagreed about the value of fixed wireless 5G deployments, SNS Research predicted in late August predicted that service revenue from fixed wireless 5G subscriptions would hit $1 billion by the end of 2019, largely due to early commercial rollouts from Verizon and AT&T.