Verizon is putting a stake in the ground regarding 5G leadership, with CEO Lowell McAdam telling investors at the JP Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference today that the company will not only lead in 5G today but will also lead in 6G “whenever that comes.”
According to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the investor meeting, McAdam emphasized the company’s early 5G trials in its headquarters in Basking Ridge, N.J., noting that in a fixed wireless environment Verizon has achieved 1.8 Gb/s speeds.
That trial, according to McAdam, is running six 4K TVs, three virtual reality boxes, and a bunch of tablets. He also said that the 5G service is providing enough bandwidth for new services like 3D videoconferencing.
Interestingly, McAdam also said he believes 5G will be profitable as a fixed service alone, regardless of whether 5G becomes a mobile service, which he expects to occur close to 2020.
Verizon has said it will have a fixed wireless 5G pilot available in 2017. Many believe the company’s emphasis on fixed wireless may be because it plans to use it as a way to expand its FiOS video and broadband service beyond its existing wireline footprint.
McAdam noted that he believes virtual reality is still five to 10 years away from being a viable technology, but said that when it does become big it will be used for many industrial and enterprise applications, and not just entertainment.
“If it becomes big, what does that mean for industrial use? For enterprise use? For entertainment use?” he asked. “When you can deliver 2 Gb/s into a home with beam-forming antennas, there is another big surge coming.”
McAdam also said he expects the Internet of Things (IoT) to be a lucrative business in the coming years because there’s pent-up demand for it.
Competitively, McAdam said he believes that Verizon is still two years ahead of the other mobile operators. “We’re going to lead on 5G, and we will probably lead on 6G whenever that comes. In the meantime, there’s a lot of opportunity out there.”
McAdam’s comments on 5G echo those of CFO Fran Shammo who spoke at a similar investor event last week. Shammo said that initially most 5G applications will be fixed and not mobile. He also referred to 5G as an “overlay” to LTE.
Verizon is coordinating with Asian operators KT, NTT DoCoMo, and SK Telecom on 5G through its 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance. The goal of the Alliance is to share 5G trial information among the operators. A further goal is to help speed along standards development and achieve economies of scale when it comes time for 5G equipment and devices.