Verizon is rolling out the trucks and outfitting the first customers with its residential 5G Home fixed wireless service. The company declined to say how many subscribers would receive installations today, but Mike Haberman, vice president of network engineering at Verizon, told SDxCentral that there has been a lot of demand for it from consumers. “We’ve had a ton of interest,” he said.
Verizon’s 5G Home service is pre-standard, which means it is using proprietary equipment based upon early 5G specs created by the 5G Tech Forum (a group organized by Verizon that includes vendors such as Samsung, Ericsson, and others).
Verizon announced last month that its 5G Home service would be available for pre-order starting on Sept. 13. Today the company begins the home installations and will turn on the service in the four launch cities: Indianapolis, Houston, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, California.
But it’s unclear how many potential subscribers in each of those markets will actually have access to Verizon’s residential 5G service. When Verizon made the service available for pre-order in mid-September, many of those that tried to pre-order the service found they weren’t in the coverage area. “It is a good size deployment but not the entire market,” Haberman said.
The company is installing each residential customer with 5G and providing what it’s calling “white glove” service to do it. Haberman said that the company believes the white glove treatment is necessary because it’s a new technology and the company wants to make sure that it is installed correctly. However, he added that eventually Verizon plans to move to a self-install model.
Not a Trial
Although some experts have compared this to a high-profile trial because Verizon is initially offering the service at no charge for three months, Haberman takes issue with that characterization. “No, this is not a trial whatsoever,” he said. “This is real hardware. This is a real installation. And, customers are using this as their primary service.”
Haberman added that Verizon already did lengthy 5G trials in 2017. And the company will charge for the service after the first three months. Verizon has said that current Verizon customers with a qualifying smartphone plan will get the service for $50 per month. Non-Verizon customers will have to pay $70 per month.
First with 5G NR?
Verizon has been criticized by competitors for calling this fixed wireless launch the “first 5G launch globally” because it isn’t using the 5G New Radio (NR) standard. However, Haberman said that the company will quickly upgrade 5G NR and he even predicts that the company will be first with 5G NR as well. “We will be the first to have it up and running,” he said.