Verizon's 5G fixed wireless is bringing fast speeds to telecommuters

In the first few weeks of availability, Verizon's fixed-point 5G internet service is providing a quality alternative to traditional wireline service.

How Louisville is poised to be one of AT&T's first 5G cities AT&T has spent $700 million in the past three years in Kentucky to improve wireless and wired networks and support the debut of 5G in Louisville. Louisville is one of 12 cities slated for 5G from AT&T in 2018.

Since the beginning of October, Verizon has offered a 5G fixed-point home internet service in certain neighborhoods of Sacramento, CA and Los Angeles; Houston, TX; and Indianapolis, IN. Presently, Verizon is offering this service to existing mobile subscribers for $50 per month, and $70 per month for those who do not have mobile phone service through the company. The service is deployed using 28 GHz ("millimeter wave") spectrum, using receivers and antennas installed by technicians.

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Verizon's current 5G deployments use their proprietary 5G TF technology. The company plans to transition these deployments to use industry standard 5G NR equipment in the future, though has not provided a timeline for this transition. In terms of raw speeds, 5G TF and 5G NR should be roughly equally performant, though 5G TF will not be practically usable for mobile phones. Of note, the Moto Z3, which Verizon touts as being upgradable to 5G using a hardware attachment, will use 5G NR. While 5G TF is seen as being a push for industry groups to fast-track 5G NR standardization, actual deployments are not without their detractors, most notably T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere:

The company is advertising 5G services with a consistent speed of 300 Mbps, though RCR Wireless noted in a report that Signals Research Group is achieving speeds of 600 to 800 Mbps down, with 250 Mbps up, in real-world environments. Significant caveats to this report exist, however, as these tests were conducted just after the network launched, as such, the network was essentially uncongested. As more subscribers are added to these networks, and as Verizon transitions to 5G NR, mobile phones will compete with fixed-point internet deployments, bringing congestion back.

SEE: How 5G will transform business (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

According to a report in FierceWireless, Verizon plans to expand mobile service to 30 million households in the US over the next few years. Verizon has experimented with a self-installation model for 5G home internet, though for the foreseeable future, Verizon will continue to rely on technicians for installation to ensure optimum performance. According to Verizon CFO Matt Ellis in an investor call earlier this month, "As these are early customers, we're not just doing the install and leave them, we're staying in touch with those customers and getting a lot of good feedback in terms of they like the significant increase in speed they're getting versus their prior broadband that they were getting from another third party."

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Since the beginning of October, Verizon has offered a 5G fixed-point home internet service in four cities, promising speeds of 300 Mbps. The service is available for $50/month to subscribers with an existing mobile phone plan.
  • Verizon's 5G network does not use industry standard equipment, though the network operator plans to transition to 5G NR equipment in the future.

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By James Sanders

James Sanders is a staff technology writer for TechRepublic. He covers future technology, including quantum computing, AI/ML, and 5G, as well as cloud, security, open source, mobility, and the impact of globalization on the industry, with a focus on ...