Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg CES Keynote: a Magic Show of 5G Hype

At yesterday’s long winded CES keynote, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg promised that 5G technology will dramatically impact all aspects of the economy.  As others before him have said, “5G will usher in a 4th industrial revolution.”  It will also be “a quantum leap compared to 4G” and “5G changes everything,” he said.

Yet none of those claims can be proven, because standardized 5G (based on IMT 2020) won’t be deployed till late 2020 or early 2021.  Verizon’s version of 5G is based on the carrier’s proprietary V5GTF spec.  Moreover, residential fixed wireless broadband (which Verizon has deployed in several U.S. cities with many more coming in 2019) isn’t even a use case for IMT 2020!

During the keynote, Vestberg introduced the eight “currencies” of 5G that will unleash highly connective technologies and blend physical and digital realms like never before – from AR and VR to IoT, AI, autonomous vehicles, advanced robotics, 3D printing, wearable tech and more.

The eight currencies are:

  • Speed and Throughput: Peak data rates of 10 gigabits per second and mobile data volumes of 10 terabits per second per square kilometer
  • Mobility, Connected Devices and Internet of Things: Mobile devices traveling at up to 500 kilometers per hour can potentially stay connected on a 5G network, and up to one million devices can be supported by 5G in a square kilometer
  • Energy Efficiency and Service Deployment: 5G network equipment and devices will consume only 10% of the energy consumed by 4G network equipment and devices, and specialized services that will operate on the 5G network will take much less time to implement
  • Latency and Reliability: Five millisecond end-to-end travel time of data from the mobile device to the edge of the 5G network – faster than the blink of an eye, and 5G will be more than 99.999% reliable

Vestberg added that Verizon’s ability to deliver all eight currencies of 5G is dependent on its fiber, spectrum, network density, and real estate – and that companies lacking these assets are underestimating what it will take to provide true 5G service. “Anyone who thinks 5G is just for the mobile handset is thinking too small.”

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg discusses 5G at the 2019 CES.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg discusses 5G at the 2019 CES.  Image Credit: Jeremy Horwitz/VentureBeat


To add credibility to his claims, Vestberg shared the CES stage with a diverse set of industry partners, including the New York Times, Walt Disney Studios, a doctor from the medical technology company Medivis and Verizon-owned drone operation company Skyward.  There was also a carnival style basket shoot by a member of the L.A. Lakers using Virtual Reality goggles with the image provided by Verizon’s version of 5G.

Each partner spoke of how 5G will transform their business. For instance, the New York Times is opening a “5G journalism lab” with Verizon. NY Times CEO Mark Thompson (a Brit) expects that it will transform the way the publication’s journalists gather news, as well as how it distributes the news — notably including more VR and AR content.

Verizon is separately partnering with Walt Disney’s StudioLab to explore how next-generation connectivity can improve Disney’s content production and transmission.  Walt Disney Studios CTO Jamie Voris took the stage to say that his company will be working with Verizon to give Marvel, Pixar, Disney, and LucasArts filmmakers early access to 5G innovations. Six months ago, Disney’s StudioLab was created in Burbank to figure out how to do things like improve rendering speeds for digital effects and use drones to advance cinematography. Now Verizon has joined StudioLab as a core innovation partner and will help Disney work on 5G cloud-based production workflows, 5G-connected movie standees and posters, and volumetric performance capture.

Skyward President Mariah Scott said that Verizon is committed to being the first to connect 1 million drone flights on its 5G network.  Vestberg used a tablet in the keynote venue at the Venetian to pilot a drone in Los Angeles through a 5G connection.  Ms. Scott mentioned the promise of using 5G-powered drones for industrial uses.  “The ability to gather data and analyze it in real time is what will change things,” Scott said.

Dr. Christopher Morley (MD) of Medivis spoke about the impact of 5G on medical science, including how 5G could help the medical community rethink the connections between patients and caregivers — bringing people together and changing the way doctors provide care. He also offered a powerful tangible example of how 5G and AR will work together in medical procedures.  However, there was no mention of 5G being able to deliver the low latency and high quality imaging that AR requires.


To expand its network of partners, Vestberg announced Verizon is launching a 5G innovation challenge, offering up to $1 million in seed money for the best applications of the technology.   It’s called the Verizon “5G Challenge.”

Verizon last October said it launched “the world’s first commercial 5G service” with 5G Home, a fixed wireless service for residential customers. It offers theoretical peak throughput speeds of 1Gbps.  During the keynote, Vestberg made a video call to Clayton Harris of Houston, Texas, the first 5G Home customer. Harris ran a speed test from his home, reaching 690 Mbps. He said he normally sees between 600 Mbps and 1 Gbps, with speeds at times reaching as high as 1.3 Gbps.

Vestberg said he ultimately wants to see an easier installation process for its 5G Home service– one that you can install yourself.  That will be a very difficult endeavor indeed.  For example, there is an outdoor antenna (RF transmitter/receiver) that has to be mounted outside, possibly run wires through walls, floors or ceilings, configure 5G router settings, and (if needed) Wi-Fi extenders will be installed in the home, at no charge, to ensure adequate Wi-Fi coverage for the entire house.  Here’s the complete 5G Home installation procedure:

The Asurion technician will complete the following installation process for your 5G Home service and connect your devices:

    • Verify and explain the areas in your home where the 5G signal is received.
    • Conduct a test to determine whether the 5G receiver can be installed inside or outside your home. The strength of the 5G signal can vary inside and outside your home.
    • Conduct a test of the Wi-Fi signal strength of each device throughout the house that is connected to the 5G Home Router. A Wi-Fi extender may also be installed at no charge to strengthen the Wi-Fi signal throughout your house or for devices that have a weak Wi-Fi signal.
    • Install the receiver, with your approval, either inside or outside on the side of your house.
    • Depending on the locations of the receiver and the router, the technician may need to run wires through walls, floors or ceilings.
    • Ensure that all your previously Wi-Fi connected devices are now connected to your Verizon 5G Home Router.
    • Demonstrate how you can use the My Verizon app to manage your router, such as how to restart it when you are away from home, and check the signal strength of the devices connected to the router.

–>Do you really think a non technical person can do such a self install?


10 thoughts on “Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg CES Keynote: a Magic Show of 5G Hype

  1. This blog and many other articles published by Alan Weissberger continually point out that the 5G hype and hyperbole are way ahead of any reality for that wireless technology.

    The fact is there is a ZERO likelihood of any inter-operable 5G network deployment until late 2020, at the earliest!

    AT&T and Verizon, among a few others, have repeatedly made unsubstantiated and hollow claims including 5G timelines, many of which, are based on their own private versions of 5G.
    -Don’t the major carriers have a responsibility to lead the industry towards a baseline and inter-operable 5G standard (i.e. IMT 2020)?
    -Do they expect the network equipment and handset manufacturers to have multiple product lines, each based on what a particular carrier’s version of 5G?

    It is interesting to note the FCC has also not set the record on 5G, either!

  2. Verizon Wireless can build out its 5G network without buying more spectrum, Verizon President Ronan Dunne told analysts at the Citi 2019 Global TMT West Conference. adding that the telecom has plenty of unused licensed frequencies left to complete the job. Also, Dunne said half of the subscribers to Verizon’s 5G Home fixed wireless service were new customers.

    Roughly 60% of 1,000 megahertz of spectrum that Verizon holds in 28 GHz and 39 GHz frequencies, also known as millimeter wave spectrum, is unused, Dunne said, according to a transcription of his on-stage interview by Seeking Alpha.

    “We have an explosion of capacity in the areas where the demand is created by the largest contiguous holding of millimeter spectrum on the planet,” he said.

  3. It was supposed to be one of the dominant themes of the show, but 5G was at this week’s CES in name only. There were scant products that could even connect to the limited 5G networks out there. And while many people were discussing the promise and possibilities of the technology, there were only a few concrete examples.

    “At CES, 5G is mainly being used as a buzzword and proxy for ‘future of mobility,'” said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Global Data.

    In short, it was like every other trade show discussion about 5G – all hype. And thanks to the carriers, 5G maybe even more confusing.

    “The US carriers are not helping themselves or their customers in their ‘I am first and I am better’ race,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “It is a sad state of affairs, to be honest.”

    Vestberg insists Verizon is the first to 5G thanks to its home broadband service, which launched in October. But some in the industry quibble with the declaration of victory, noting that the company launched the service using a proprietary standard that the industry didn’t agree on.

    The company plans to switch to industry-standard 5G, called 5G NR, later this year. But Ed Chan, Verizon’s chief technology architect, justified the move by arguing that its push to get to 5G out aggressively helped drive the industry standard to evolve faster.

  4. Are consumers willing to pay (more) for 5G?

    Two recent studies highlighted consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for 5G service, but devices, and whether 5G actually provides a new kind of customer experience, could prove to be sticking points.

    Matrixx Software recently surveyed more than 4,000 mobile users in both the U.S. and the U.K. to ask about the value that users place on next-generation networks. Matrixx concluded that “respondents revealed a willingness to open their wallets if 5G delivers an enhanced connectivity experience.”

    “The feedback from consumers paints a very clear picture for operators — ‘deliver a 5G experience worth the attention, and we’ll gladly pay for the privilege of using it,’” said Dave Labuda, founder, CEO and CTO of Matrixx Software. He added that “5G presents a real opportunity to deliver a powerful value-add to the consumer,” but went on to say that “Speed to network isn’t the whole battle. The operator who wins the 5G race will be the one to deliver an entirely new experience that trumps what is available to consumers today.”

    Matrixx’s survey also found that 16% of those surveyed were not willing to pay more for 5G — either because their current service was good enough; they figured that carriers would eventually provide 5G anyway; they simply couldn’t afford to pay more; or they felt that the potential benefits didn’t justify the added cost.

    Both the Matrixx survey and a PwC survey from last fall found that consumers were, at least at some level, dissatisfied with current mobile and/or home network services and are hoping 5G can resolve their issues. The Matrixx survey found that with “nearly 70 percent of mobile users surveyed across both continents [complained]that 4G connectivity is too slow, isn’t available everywhere, and connections are not reliable in heavy traffic areas.”

    The PwC survey, conducted last fall across a statistically representative sample of 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18-64 who have access to the internet, found that despite relative overall satisfaction with home and mobile services, there is “mounting frustration with overall reliability, speed and cost” of current offerings. In particular, PwC that more consumers were “completely satisfied” with their mobile internet experience than their in-home one and that faster internet access via 5G was the primary reason that users were willing to pay more for 5G.

    PwC reported that 33% of respondents said they would pay more for 5G in the home, while 31%
    would do the same for mobile. On average, end users were willing to pay an extra $5.06 per month for 5G service to the home and an extra $4.40 per month for mobile 5G.

    Matrixx’s survey showed an overall promising picture of willingness to pay — and pay more — for 5G, if carriers can deliver a better consumer experience. The company found that of the 33% of consumers who were confident that 5G would solve their connectivity issues, 87% planned to upgrade to a 5G device and 78% were willing to pay more for such devices; 88% indicated willingness to pay more for 5G network access; and 76% said that they would switch carriers to get 5G service.

    PwC, meanwhile, found that seven out of ten respondents said that if they needed a new device to utilize 5G, they would wait until they were eligible for an upgrade rather than buying a new device as soon as it was available.


  5. “Verizon finished 2018 by delivering solid financial and operational performance, as evidenced by our strong wireless service revenue and earnings growth,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg wrote in the press release.

    From the earnings call transcript, Vestberg said: “2018 was a remarkable year full of 5G firsts, including being first in the world to commercially deploy 5G with our 5G Home product. As is seen in the year, our confidence is high as we’re heading to the 5G era and the beginning of what many sees as the fourth industrial revolution. As we head into 2019 and the 5G era, we’re beginning a period of transformational change. We are laser focused on delivering customers a best-in-class and game-changing experience on our networks.”

    In case Verizon’s priorities aren’t clear, CEO Vestberg said “5G” four times in just one sentence.

    CFO Matt Ellis: ” Our wireless operating results provided the basis for growth and profitability in the fourth quarter. Total wireless operating revenue increased 2.1% to $24.3 billion in the fourth quarter. For the full-year, operating revenue totaled $91.3 billion, an increase of 4.4%. For the quarter, wireless service revenue increased by 1.9%. For the full-year 2018, service revenue grew 1.7%, attributed to ongoing customer growth, step-ups to unlimited and the benefits of subscribers customizing their experience through mix-and-match plans.”

    Wireline: 54,000 Fios Internet net additions; Fios total revenue growth of 2.9% year over year is not bad. However, wireline revenue declined. CFO Matt Ellis on the earnings call:

    ” Total operating revenue for the wireline segment decreased 3.5% in the quarter and 3.1% for the full-year. Growth from our high-quality fiber-based products continues to be offset by secular pressures from legacy technologies and competition. For the full-year, consumer revenue decreased by 1.5%. Consumer markets revenue decreased 1.0% in the quarter as Fios Internet growth was overshadowed by declines in video and legacy products. Fios revenue grew by 2.9% in the quarter. This growth was primarily driven by an increase in the total customer base and strong demand for higher internet speeds. In the quarter, we added 54,000 Fios Internet customers. We now have a total of about 6.1 million Fios Internet subscribers.

    In Fios Video, the business faced ongoing headwinds as observed throughout the linear TV market. The Fios Video business ended with 46,000 subscriber losses in the quarter and 168,000 for the year. For the quarter, enterprise solutions revenue decreased 3.0%, partner solutions revenue decreased 9.2%, and business markets revenue was down 5.6%. Overall, secular and pricing pressures continued to be significant headwinds for these businesses. We expect legacy product revenues to continue to decline in 2019 at rates consistent with last year. In order to counter this decline, we continue to invest in fiber-based products and new applications that will open new opportunities for customers across our business lines. Through our One Fiber initiative we are building a single, highly-resilient and scalable fiber network that will allow us to efficiently provide advanced data services to customers across our consumer, business and enterprise customer groups. As a result, we remain confident that we can continue to generate growth and momentum in fiber-based products and new applications. Segment EBITDA margin was 16.9% for the quarter and 19.2% for the year, as our focus on operational efficiencies was more than offset by revenue declines and content cost escalations.”

    On Verizon’s Telematics and IoT Business Ellis said: “In our telematics business, total Verizon Connect revenue was $242 million. IoT revenues including Verizon Connect increased approximately 9.5% in the quarter. Our value proposition is evolving as our engagement with municipalities gains more momentum with the upcoming commercial rollout of 5G services.”


  6. Did you know that “real 5G” is based on a proprietary fixed wireless broadband spec? And that fixed wireless broadband is not even a use case for the REAL 5G standard= IMT 2020?

    Vestberg on the earnings call: “Our third priority is to extend our leadership in 5G. The cornerstone of our strategy continues to be our best-in-class network. We have demonstrated our network leadership through every cycle from analog to 4G. We run to and embrace the challenge of deploying the best technology for our customers. Whatever is technology such a small cells, dense fiber or LTE advanced features, Verizon has a proven track record of setting the gold standard for others to follow. In return, our consistent investment in our networks, particularly 5G will pay dividends as well as we advance and lead the industry into the fourth industrial revolution. Not too long ago, they mere thought of having a 5G network before the beginning of the next decade would have seen implausible, but we pushed the industry to get there faster. As a leader and catalyst of change, we advanced 5G development and delivered to the word the first two 5G deployments in 2018 with our initial four commercial markets, and this is real 5G. This is a completely transformative experience that gives customers speeds, measuring hundreds of megabits to gigabits, reduce latency, allow for connections per square kilometers by millions, and energy efficiency at a fraction of today’s consumptions.

    Our 5G network is projected on delivering a game-changing wireless experience. The assets we have compiled and put into place in 2018 have enabled this vision. We have the spectrum to provide a rich ultra-wideband 5G services. Our deep fiber backbone connects our assets, enabling a high-capacity and efficient architecture. Our investment in the intelligent edge network creates new capabilities and gives us the flexibility to serve our customers. And it is our engineers and the know-how they’ve accumulated through this development process that binds our 5G solution together. No other wireless operator has this unique combination of assets. We are the leader in 5G as we have said before and proven once again. We don’t wait for the future, we build it.”

  7. Wonderful article on Verizon CEO smoke and mirrors talk related to 5G! We will be linking to this great article on our web site. Keep up the incisive analysis and great reporting.

  8. Verizon offers $1.75M in prizes for 5G innovation

    The Verizon Built on 5G Challenge is accepting submissions until July 15, 2019 in a search for new products, applications and services that can make use of 5G. The winning submission gets a prize of $1 million, with $500,00 going to second place and $250,000 for third place; the winners will be revealed in October.

  9. WSJ (on-line sub required): Verizon Pauses Plans to Charge for 5G
    Carrier said earlier it would impose $10 monthly fee after three months; service had drawn mixed reviews

    Verizon is holding off for now on its plans to charge an extra $10 a month for faster 5G smartphone service.

    The largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers said Thursday it would waive that charge for an undetermined period for users of the new 5G-compatible Samsung smartphone in markets where the service would launch next, as well as in cities where rollouts have begun.

    Verizon turned on 5G service earlier this month in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, saying at the time that it would waive the $10 monthly fee for just three months. Analysts have since given mixed reviews of the service—which is available to users of the top two tiers of Verizon’s unlimited-data plans—for being limited in scope.

    “This is some of the blowback you get from being first” in offering smartphone 5G service, said John Hodulik, an analyst at UBS Group AG. “It didn’t make sense to charge people extra money for a service that they’re rarely going to use.”

    Verizon said Thursday it would roll out 5G service in parts of 20 additional cities including Phoenix, Detroit and Providence, R.I., by the end of the year. It didn’t specify when.

    A spokeswoman said customers in Chicago and Minneapolis with the first 5G phone Verizon sold, the Motorola Moto Z3 with a clip-on modem that makes it compatible, will begin paying for the service three months after their go-live date. Customers with that phone in the new cities will only receive three months of service free, while Samsung phone users in all 22 of the markets Verizon has announced so far will have the fee waived for an unspecified amount of time.

    Tami Erwin, head of Verizon’s new business-focused unit, said the carrier is waiving the cost in all the cities it has announced so far for an undetermined period to give customers time to experience and understand 5G.

    The carrier learned from the first two markets that “customers want more of it, and they want it everywhere,” she added. Verizon is working with municipalities to get the remaining zoning permissions it needs to add small cells and densify coverage in the inaugural cities, Ms. Erwin said.

    U.S. carriers are jostling to deliver 5G wireless in many markets this year and have sparred over the faster service’s branding. Upgrading networks is a capital-intensive undertaking that requires spectrum and investments in fiber, radios and antennas.

    “We are a long way from realizing all the dreams of 5G, but we have to start somewhere,” John Saw, chief technology officer at Sprint Corp., said at an industry conference in Brooklyn on Wednesday. The technology promises to disrupt industries like health care in the same way 4G connectivity helped Uber transform transportation, he said.

    Sprint plans to roll out the service in nine cities by the end of the second quarter, Mr. Saw said, adding that the carrier has installed antennas to facilitate 5G in those places but is awaiting the necessary software.“It has been difficult to get to where we are today,” Mr. Saw said.

    AT&T executives told analysts on an earnings call Wednesday that its 5G service was available in parts of 19 cities and that it would offer nationwide 5G coverage in 2020. It plans to add three new 5G markets soon.

    Some AT&T customers have begun seeing 5GE symbols on their smartphones to indicate that they are receiving higher-bandwidth service, a precursor to the carrier’s rollout of faster technology that meets 5G standards.

    “It’s having exactly the effect that you want it to have. Our customers see this tag and they go and do a speed check,” Randall Stephenson, the carrier’s chief executive, said on an analyst call. He added that in the next two or three years wireless customers could begin to pay a premium for the faster speeds.

    Neville Ray, chief technology officer at T-Mobile US Inc. criticized rivals’ limited 5G launches in a blog post this week, saying that the carrier would launch its version of the service “when the technology is ready for everyday customer use.” A spokesman said the carrier would offer nationwide 5G service in 2020.

    Write to Sarah Krouse at [email protected]

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