Verizon’s 5G Home Service Will Change The Wireless Game For Businesses, Partners Say
The race to 5G has come to a fever pitch as Verizon announced it's ready to launch "the world's first" commercial 5G service by Oct. 1.
Early 5G services are being directed at consumers, but businesses can also look forward to the latest iteration of wireless technology which promises speeds as much as 1,000 times faster than 4G. Wireless, for many solution providers, has been a "backup" offering or an ancillary product, but 5G will change the value of wireless, partners said.
"5G is a big game-changer, not just for the consumer, but for corporations, too," said Natasha Royer Coons, chief revenue officer of Advantix, a mobility and expense management company, and founder of TeraNova, which specializes in IoT connectivity solutions.
TeraNova, a San Diego-based Verizon partner, has been building out wireless solutions for its end customers. Because of 4G's current limitations, however, wireless can only be offered as a primary connectivity option in very specific use cases, like some retail environments, a temporary location, and very small office settings.
"When we start to add on very sensitive applications, such as VoIP, or add a lot more employees, internet speeds are really critical. Those things you can't really support on 4G," Coons said.
5G brings the promise of supporting latency-sensitive applications, including voice, video, and cloud solutions. The technology can also support many more users, she said.
Verizon opened up the order process for its 5G Home service on Thursday in four U.S. cities. The carrier said that initial availability will be limited to "certain neighborhoods" within its launch cities -- Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California.
Verizon did not respond to CRN's question on whether a 5G service for business users is soon to follow.
Early users of 5G Home in the first four cities will get it for free for the first three months. After that introductory period, current Verizon Wireless customers with a qualifying smartphone plan will pay $50 per month for Verizon 5G Home. Other users will pay $70 per month, with no additional hardware costs. The new data plan will give users "typical network speeds around 300 Mbps and, depending on location, peak speeds of nearly 1 Gbps, with no data caps," and no throttling, according to Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon.
Verizon also promised consumers three months of free YouTube TV and a free Apple TV 4K or Google Chromecast Ultra device during installation.
Coaxial and fiber installations can take up to two months to be deployed and can cost upwards of $20,000 just to bring it into a building. Customers often can't wait that long for connectivity needed to run their businesses. Now that 5G is coming into the picture, which can be up and running in a matter of a day or two, these wireless services could be a good option to run business-critical applications, said Andrew Gregoire, CEO of Ace Technology Advisors, a nationwide managed service provider headquartered in Fall River, Ma., that partners with Verizon.
Gregoire's customers are already clambering for 5G as a connectivity option.
"You are future-proofing your environment if you are deploying 5G-capable devices," he said. "From a bandwidth perspective, you don't have the same obstacles with 5G, and from a cost and time perspective, 5G is the way to go."
Partners will able to use 5G for connectivity for more customers in conjunction with optimization technologies such as SD-WAN, which will help move 5G from a backup option to a primary connection for some environments, solution providers said.
"This is a diverse access type because wireline could get cut or go down, but 5G is so fast that it can actually support applications and users and not just limp by," Coons said.
Verizon, for its part, said its 5G speeds are being achieved mostly via its deep fiber assets and millimeter wave frequencies. Verizon CEO Hans Vestburg said in an interview with CNBC on Thursday that the carrier is "investing a lot" in 5G, including everything from the fiber, to the passive infrastructure, to the equipment required.
The telecom giant might be the first to announce a 5G service, but Verizon is hardly the only carrier promoting its 5G efforts right now.
While 5G was standardized in June, much of the networking gear needed to support 5G is still in development by chipset and device makers. Verizon's early service is using nonstandard 5G gear. The carrier said that once standardized gear is available, it will make the switch.
"We will be first with a standards-based 5G service," Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, Verizon's Dallas-based rival, told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
Verizon 5G Home is also focused household users instead of mobile customers because handsets that support 5G aren't expected to hit the market until 2019, Vestburg said.
"We will come out [with a mobile 5G service] as soon as handsets can be bought," he said.