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Verizon 5G Push Includes Partnerships With Apple, Google

Rather that compete via acquisition, Verizon is partnering with Apple and Google for video content as the carrier gears up to launch a 5G wireless service in five cities later this year.

Verizon has revealed plans to team up with Apple and Google on the video content side as part of its new 5G wireless service slated to roll out later this year.

The announcement comes at a time in which carriers are scrambling to grab up more media assets to compete with streaming video providers. While many service providers are attempting to do this through acquisitions, such as AT&T with Time Warner and Comcast with 21st Century Fox and Sky Plc., Verizon has chosen to partner.

Verizon pulled the plug on its own three-year-old video streaming services, Go90, in July. Partnering with Apple and Google as its video providers could help the carrier compete against rival pay TV providers.

[Related: Intel: 5G Plans 'Have Not Changed' ]

“It’s our belief that we’re positioned perfectly to have the partnerships that we need to be successful,” said Verizon's Chairman Lowell McAdam, the carrier's former CEO, during the company’s second-quarter earnings call in July. “We’re not going to be owning content, so we’re not going to be competing with other content providers. We’re going to be their best partner from a distribution perspective.”

At the same time, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon added Indianapolis as the fourth city in which it plans to launch its 5G residential broadband service, joining Houston, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California.

In June, 3GPP, the international wireless standards body, signed off on the standalone 5G New Radio specification. With the standard in place, hardware, chipset and device manufacturers have started development on the antennas, phones, chips, and infrastructure that can support the high speeds that 5G promises. Since then, carriers have been racing to promote their own 5G strategies.

Verizon's home broadband service is set to debut during the second half of 2018. Customers located in the five initial 5G service areas will either receive a free Apple TV box or subscription to Google’s YouTube TV app for live television service, Verizon said in a blog published Tuesday.

"YouTube TV will give you more than 60 of your favorite live TV channels and with Apple TV you can select all the movies and TV shows you want from iTunes, Netflix, and Prime Video. 5G also means super-fast internet speeds and the ability to connect more devices at home, allowing you to download movies in an instant and engage in truly high-end gaming," said Tami Erwin, executive vice president of Verizon Wireless Operations, in the carrier's blog post.

AT&T last year completed a 5G trial for residential customers in the Austin, Texas area during the first half of 2017. The trial let consumers stream DirecTV NOW, AT&T's pay TV streaming service, over a fixed wireless 5G connection. The Dallas-based carrier in July announced it would be rolling out mobile 5G to consumers in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. and Oklahoma City, joining Dallas; Waco, Texas; and Atlanta.

Partners last year told CRN that while 5G will be an interesting technology, initial 5G use cases have largely revolved around consumers -- not business customers -- because of the data caps that carriers will be imposing as the technology is rolled out. While the major carriers -- including AT&T and Verizon -- have said 5G will be available for businesses in the coming months, 5G services have thus far targeted residential customers.

Verizon said it will be sharing more information on pricing and 5G service availability, as well as details on the specific content plans, as the launch dates get closer.

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