Verizon is aggressively rolling out updates to the technology behind its 5G network deployment that will align that network with established standards. But, the carrier remains tight-lipped on just when it will launch that standards-based service.
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told financial analysts during the company’s fourth-quarter 2018 conference call that the carrier was deploying 5G “as fast as we can.” He did not provide details on those deployment plans, but did note that the carrier has been aggressive in deploying supporting technologies like software-controlled fiber.
As for updates to its 5G Home service, Vestberg explained that the carrier was waiting for continued maturation of the standards-based 5G New Radio (NR) technology to update the proprietary technology currently used for the service.
“As the industry matures, the equipment is maturing for NR so we can bring that in,” Vestberg said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “And we actually have quite a lot of deployment already of those types [of] base stations. So, we will come back to that when we commercially launch that…It’s nothing we want to disclose for competitive reasons. So, I wouldn’t talk about it right now.”
Verizon launched its 5G Home service in October. The service uses a Verizon-based proprietary 5G technology and is available in just a handful of markets. The carrier has said it would update those deployments to the standards-based 5G technology once it becomes available.
“We were very clear when we launched 5G Home that it was on the TF [Technology Forum] standard and that when NR hardware was ready we’d update customers at no charge,” Verizon spokesman Kevin King told SDxCentral earlier this month.
However, since the Verizon launch, rival AT&T launched a standards-based mobile 5G network in parts of a dozen markets. Both operators are relying on millimeter wave spectrum to support their 5G services, which limits the geographical reach of both services.
AT&T has since said it would have nationwide mobile 5G coverage by early next year. That push will rely on the carrier’s lower-band spectrum holdings.
Verizon CFO Matt Ellis also said that the carrier was seeing “good progress” in adoption of its SD-WAN platform that is helping to offset losses in Verizon’s legacy wireline operations. Verizon works with Viptela, which is owned by Cisco, and Versa on its managed and white-label SD-WAN products.
Vestberg also played up the SD-WAN angle in countering concerns over wireline defections.
“But to be honest, we also see with the assets we’re now bringing out with [our] intelligence edge network, we see possibility for many new solutions, sort of coming out of our customers based on the fiber we’re deploying, but also when it comes to SD-WAN and a couple of other very important solutions that [we] are bringing out,” Vestberg said.
Verizon’s Q4 revenues were basically flat year over year at $34.3 billion. However, increased expenses in its latest quarter slashed net income from $18.8 billion in Q4 2017, to just $2.1 billion last year. Company management cited several one-off items for the drop, including a $4.6 billion write off tied to its Verizon Media business.
For the full year, Verizon’s revenues increased a modest 3.8 percent to $130.9 billion in 2018, compared with 2017 results. But, those Q4 impairments cut full-year net income in half to just $16 billion last year.