Verizon misleading 5G commercials called out by NAD after AT&T complaint

The National Advertising Division (NAD) has condemned Verizon for misleading consumers over the quality of its 5G network across the country.  NAD recommended Verizon stop using the claim that it’s delivering “the most powerful 5G experience for America” in two previously aired TV commercials touting the carrier’s 5G service rollout in sports stadiums were challenged by 5G competitor AT&T.

Editor’s Note:   NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB National Programs’ self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

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The National Advertising Division has determined that, in the context of two challenged television commercials touting Verizon’s rollout of 5G service in sports venues, the claim that ‘Verizon is building the most powerful 5G experience for America’ reasonably communicates a message about the consumer experience of using 5G mobile service that was not supported by the evidence in the record,” according to statement from NAD.

The message is apparently that Verizon was not fairly representing its network in advertisements and promotions broadcast at sporting venues.

Verizon plans to appeal the ruling to the National Advertising Review Board.

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Verizon is in hot water over its misleading 5G commercials following AT&T complaint

Verizon is building 5G networks in sporting venues across the U.S., though the NAD believes the way the advertisements have been created suggests a similar experience would be offered outside the sports venues themselves.

The express claim stated in the ads is that “Verizon is building the most powerful 5G experience for America,” a message the carrier indicated is clear to consumers, despite NAD’s finding that Verizon’s use of past and present tense conveys the message that it currently delivers the most powerful 5G experience.

“The intent of the commercial is to inform consumers about the billions of dollars Verizon is investing in its 5G buildout. Verizon strongly believes that consumers understand that this is the only message that is reasonably conveyed,” said Verizon in its advertiser’s statement.

NAD pointed to wording like “This is happening now,” for the NFL spots and said Verizon’s “unqualified superiority claim…goes beyond touting Verizon’s spectrum portfolio.” Instead, sending the message of 5G consumer experiences that include capacity to serve many people at once and using Verizon’s 5G network to post content, along with resilience, coverage and latency –  which NAD said Verizon didn’t provide sufficient evidence to support its present tense “most powerful network” claim.

Based on the context, one commercial the NAD release appears to be referring to is a Verizon NFL 5G Built Right ad, which Jeffrey Moore, principal at Wave7 Research, confirmed ran heavily in September 2019 in line with the start of NFL season and stopped airing November 18.

“5G branding efforts from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile shifted to pandemic-related branding, showing that Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are doing what they can to keep customers connected and safe,” Moore told Fierce Wireless.

Verizon announced last September it was expanding 5G service to 13 NFL stadiums. Given current restrictions on large public gatherings in many places though, it’s unclear when ads depicting massive crowds might come back into favor.

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U.S. based wireless telcos are facing a difficult challenge in delivering the desired “5G experience.” Despite the telcos preaching about the benefits of mmWave spectrum to underpin 5G networks, the telcos are performing woefully according to many critics/pundits.

T-Mobile has been blasted for the speeds which have been delivered over the 600 MHz spectrum it has been offering, while AT&T and Verizon has been failing at coverage. In a recent Rootmetrics gaming study in Los Angeles, none met the minimum requirements for latency.

Moore noted that Metro By T-Mobile’s “Rule Your Day” campaign, was halted for a period, but restarted May 6. On the postpaid side, T-Mobile’s message for a time was “We’re with you,” but has now returned to the tagline of “Are you with us?”

This “slap on the wrist” by NAD implies that the U.S. is failing to even come close to meeting its own inflated promises in the delivery of 5G service.

For an excellent analysis and comparison of exaggerated 5G claims by Verizon vs AT&T, please see this blog post by Adrian Diaconescu.

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References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nad-recommends-verizon-discontinue-the-claim-that-it-is-delivering-the-most-powerful-5g-experience-for-america-in-two-tv-commercials-advertiser-to-appeal-301059468.html

https://telecoms.com/504372/verizon-gets-wrist-slap-for-misleading-5g-claims/

https://www.fiercewireless.com/operators/verizon-should-discontinue-most-powerful-5g-experience-ad-claim-nad-finds

https://www.phonearena.com/news/verizon-misleading-5g-advertisingatt-complaint_id124706

Verizon Q1 earnings beat; loses postpaid phone & Fios TV subs, adds Fios internet subs; 5G & fiber build-out on track

Verizon reported higher-than-expected adjusted net income in the first quarter of 2020 – a period where the coronavirus pandemic weighed on the carrier’s wireless business.   Verizon was forced to close 70% of its stores because of the stay at home orders. Verizon said its networks performed strongly in the face of increased traffic stemming from the many  shelter in place orders throughout the U.S. (see Network Usage Patterns chart below).
Verizon said it’s experienced a 9% increase in wireless data use as compared to typical network usage, as well as a 38% increase in voice over LTE minutes of use, a 45% increase in VoLTE call times, and a 65% increase in virtual private network usage. Use of collaboration tools is up 10 times its usual traffic volume, and gaming traffic is up more than 200% than typical. Video use is up 41% over baseline.

Verizon had 115.6 million wireless postpaid connections across its business at the end of March, including tablets, smartphones and other gadgets like smartwatches. Verizon’s pay-television service – Fios video – lost 84,000 connections in the quarter and the company added 59,000 Fios internet connections.

Verizon lost 68,000 postpaid phone connections during the first three months of the year, compared with a net loss of 44,000 such connections during the same period a year earlier. Retail store closures led to a “significant drop” in customer activity, the company said.  Postpaid phone customers are considered lucrative because they typically pay bills monthly under longer-term contracts and are less likely to switch carriers. In sharp contrast, AT&T added 163,000 postpaid phone subscribers during the first quarter.

Total revenues for wireless products and services was essentially flat, seeing just a 0.5% decrease year-over-year to $22.6 billion. While wireless service revenue grew in both the consumer and business segments, Verizon said, that growth was countered by sharp reductions in equipment revenue because in-store customer engagement was limited by social distancing measures. Consolidated operating revenues for the company were down 1.6% to $31.6 billion.

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The largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers tempered its financial forecasts for the rest of the year, lowering its profit goals (see Matt Ellis’ remarks below) and withdrawing its revenue targets. In the first quarter, the company reported a slight drop in wireless subscribers as gains in business accounts were offset by a steep decline in new consumer accounts.

Verizon increased its bad-debt reserve by $228 million based on the number of customers it expected won’t be able to pay their bills. It and other carriers signed a pledge with the Federal Communications Commission not to cut off service for 60 days or charge late fees to consumers facing pandemic-related hardships.

“We were in a position of not really having any idea what the impact of the social distancing and shelter-in-place would [be],” said Matt Ellis, Verizon’s chief financial officer.  Verizon hasn’t disclosed how many customers have stopped paying, but Mr. Ellis said many consumers continue to pay their wireless bill even when they can’t pay their car loans or mortgages.

Verizon’s Progress towards their 2020 Goals:

Strengthen & Grow Core Business
•Driving digital sales through enhanced experiences
•Strengthened mmWave spectrum holdings through Auction 103

Leverage Assets to Drive New Growth
34 Ultra wideband cities live; 5G network build on plan
•BlueJeans acquisition announced in April expands portfolio

Drive Financial Discipline & Strength in Balance Sheet
•Disciplined spend with focus on operational efficiencies
•Scenario planning to navigate uncertainties

Infuse a Purpose-Driven Culture
•Continuing initiatives to drive meaningful difference to society
•Leading brand perception related to COVID-19 response

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CEO Hans Vestberg (English grammar is not very good and not corrected here) talked up VZ’s 5G and fiber plans on today’s earnings call:

When it comes to leverage our assets and we’re growing in the future our 5G plans and our fiber plans the build out of that are on plan. We were also a little bit ahead of plan when we ended the first quarter. And can I report still today we are on plan with the 5G and fiber. Of course, our challenge is out there when it comes to COVID-19 and so on.

But our team are finding new ways and innovative ways to actually do the deployment. There are ways of dealing with approvals from the municipalities set by new ways. And we have great collaborations from many of the municipalities to do it. There might be problems going forward but I am also confident that my team are very innovative in the field and see that we continue to drive hard on this.The 5G is still very much in the middle the center of our strategy. And as you heard me saying before we’re in the middle of the execution and we’re not halting that. We’re keeping it up all the time and the team is doing great work there. And we see opportunity with 5G going forward both with building all the cities, the 5G mobile edge compute as well as making this nationwide 5G still this year.

On top of that we increased the CapEx guidance in the quarter because we felt that it was a good time for us to continue to see that we have robust networks as we went into a moment in time we don’t really know how the network would be used. At the same time of course sending a message that we think is a good return on investment on that incremental CapEx.

Editor’s Note:  We find it beyond unbelievable that Verizon is such a 5G cheerleader, especially CEO Hans Vestberg, when the company is not even a member of 3GPP and doesn’t attend 3GPP (5G architecture and 5G core) or ITU-R WP5D meetings where IMT 2020 radio aspects (RIT/SRIT) are being standardized.  Yet their U.S. network provider competitors are all 3GPP members and attend 3GPP as well as ITU meetings.  The competitor list includes AT&T, T-Mobile, Dish, Comcast, Charter, C-Spire, and other network service providers.

Verizon CFO Matt Ellis said:

For adjusted EPS, we are revising our original guidance of 2% to 4% growth and are now guiding to a range of negative 2% to positive 2% change from the prior year. Our new estimated range is based on a scenario that assumes significant headwinds prevail throughout the second quarter.

We have limited visibility into the second half of the year, which will depend on various potential operating environments. We will continue to assess the impact of COVID on our business, including our bad debt reserve and expect to provide an update on our next earnings call based on how things develop between now and then.

You can watch Verizon’s earnings call webcast here.

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References:

https://www.verizon.com/about/investors/quarterly-reports/1q-2020-earnings-conference-call-webcast

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4339873-verizon-communications-inc-vz-ceo-hans-vestberg-on-q1-2020-results-earnings-call-transcript

https://www.wsj.com/articles/verizons-wireless-business-slowed-by-coronavirus-11587730044

Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service at DoE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Verizon Business and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are working together on ways that 5G technology can improve national security, boost energy efficiency and aid scientific research. The #1 U.S. wireless carrier notes that the work is related to its overriding strategy of developing use cases for 5G that apply to universities, startups, large companies and consumers.   The use of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband at the PNNL’s Richland WA location will help educate the lab’s federal sponsors on the impact and potential of 5G.
Verizon
Verizon recently installed its 5G Ultra Wideband service in Corning’s fiber optic cable manufacturing factory. (FierceWireless)
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“With Verizon, we plan to explore how cybersecurity will underpin 5G for critical infrastructure and how 5G will drive transformation in the protection of endpoint devices, advancement of artificial intelligence, the science behind autonomous systems and related internet of things applications,” Scott Godwin, PNNL’s general manager of Corporate Partnerships & Alliances, said in a press release. “This partnership fits squarely with PNNL’s commitment to explore the capability of new science and technology to further safety and security worldwide.”

“Our 5G Ultra Wideband network is built to support transformational innovations and solutions across all industries,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business. “There’s no doubt 5G’s increased data bandwidth and super-low lag will help play a critical role in evolving response connectivity and mission operations for first responders.  We’ve seen exciting use cases come out of our 5G First Responder Lab and are thrilled to see the new applications that will arise from our work with PNNL.”

This engagement is part of Verizon Business’ broader strategy to partner with customers, startups, universities and large enterprises to explore how 5G can disrupt and transform nearly every industry. Verizon operates five 5G Labs in the U.S. and one in London that specialize in developing uses cases in industries ranging from health care to public safety to entertainment. In addition, Verizon is setting up 5G labs on-premise for several customers as part of an ongoing initiative to partner on 5G-related use cases to help customers transform their industries.

Verizon 5G Labs and Dignitas are also using the 5G network to enhance e-sports. The goals are to improve participants’ performance and recovery and to enable innovative fan/participant interactions. The first e-sports training facility is at Verizon’s 5G lab. It will serve as Dignitas’ west coast headquarters and home to its league of champions.

References:

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-business-national-lab

https://www.verizon.com/about/our-company/5g-labs

Verizon Explores 5G Use Cases for National Security, Energy Efficiency at DOE Lab

Verizon to double 5G mmWave cities and use DSS by end of 2020

Verizon plans to double the number of cities covered by its mmWave based 5G wireless network by the end of the year.  The company also said it will expand its mmWave 5G coverage areas in the 31 cities where it already offers the service, according to a Fortune article citing comments from Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg. 
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CEO Vestberg also said that Verizon would expand its 5G Home fixed wireless Internet service to a total of ten cities during 2020, up from the five it currently covers. That’s noteworthy considering Verizon recently overhauled the offering to include a do-it-yourself installation component coupled with new, 3GPP-Release 15 5G NR compatible network equipment.”
Verizon did not name the additional cities it will expand 5G Home and mmWave 5G services.
“We have the opportunity to continue our journey to be the leader on 5G,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said at a meeting with investors in New York on Thursday. “We’re not only expanding markets, we’re also expanding coverage in all the markets.”
Verizon’s announcements essentially counter worries that the company is shrinking from the daunting task of deploying commercial mobile services in mmWave spectrum bands. Due to the physics governing transmissions in such bands, signals in mmWave spectrum can only travel a few thousand feet at the most, and often cannot travel through obstacles like buildings, trees and glass.
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As a result, Verizon and other operators building mmWave networks have been forced to construct more “small cell” transmission sites – Verizon said it expects to build five times more small cell sites in 2020 than it did last year, according to the Fortune article. However, Verizon did not provide a specific number for its small cell ambitions.Importantly, Verizon’s Vestberg said the operator’s 5G actions are designed in part to encourage customers to upgrade to one of the company’s 5G service plans. Verizon currently charges an extra $10 per month for 5G access on its cheapest unlimited plan, and has promised to impose that fee on its more expensive unlimited plans sometime in the future.
Image result for verizon 5G imagesBut Verizon’s 5G efforts aren’t exclusive to its mmWave spectrum. Vestberg reiterated Verizon’s promise to expand 5G to other spectrum bands sometime this year.  The U.S. #1 wireless carrier plans to use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS)  which will let it share lower frequencies for use with 4G and 5G endpoint devices at the same time from one cell site. That would let it cover far more territory, though with slower download speeds.[Note  that T-Mobile has reported difficulties with at least one vendor in deploying DSS.]

Rivals have said the gear isn’t ready yet, but Vestberg pushed back on Thursday. “This year we will launch nationwide 5G based on dynamic spectrum sharing,” he said. “We’re going to launch that when we think it’s commercially right, when we see enough handsets out in the market.”

In other Verizon news, the company said it plans to expand its edge computing agreement with Amazon AWS, first announced late last year. The companies hope to operate a total of 11 edge computing sites by the end of 2020, up from one site when the pact was first announced.

Verizon’s announcements today reflect continued momentum by the operator in the realm of 5G. Unlike its rival AT&T, which is in the midst of building out a streaming video operation via its acquisition of Time Warner, Verizon has bet much of its corporate future on 5G. Thus, given the operator’s size and scope, it can be viewed as a bit of a 5G bellwether.

It’s difficult to gauge the details of Verizon’s 5G progress considering the company does not disclose important metrics like the number of 5G handsets it has sold, the number of 5G customers it counts, the number of 5G transmission sites it operates and the specific revenues it expects to derive from 5G.

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References:

https://fortune.com/2020/02/13/verizon-5g-mobile-network-double-number-of-cities/

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/verizon-doubles-down-on-mmwave-5g-with-new-60-city-deployment-goal/d/d-id/757490?

 

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg’s technology related remarks on 4Q2019 earnings call

Note: Copy editing was done to correct grammar errors and delete extraneous words/phrases.

  • Our partnership with AWS Amazon on the 5G mobile edge compute, is a totally new way of accessing a market that we have not been into.
  • We fulfilled our 5G commitment to deploy in 30 cities. We made 31. We said we’re going to launch 5G Home with the NR standard. We did that, and we said we’re going to launch the first 5G mobile edge compute. We did that in Chicago in December.
  • If you think about our priorities for 2020, first of all, continue to grow on the core business. We showed this year we can continue to grow 4G and our core business, and that we’ll continue to do in 2020 as well, including building our network to be the best network in this market. Secondly is leveraging our new assets that we’re building.
  • We’re building out fiber. We’re building our 5G and seeing that we can start leveraging that with our customer.
  • This year, we’ll continue to have a lot of focus on our 5G build-out and we will come back to that later on how we see the 5G market when we will have an Investor Day later in February.

Verizon 5G Super Bowl

Verizon claims 5G leadership with 31 mobile cities, 16 NFL stadiums, 4 basketball arenas; launched 5G Edge and NR-based 5G Home

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  • We’re very excited about the opportunities that Verizon business group has, because that’s why we started building the Verizon Intelligent Edge Network some three, four years ago in order to actually address this market in the best way, and the traction we are seeing with our customers is really good.
  • So I think that our technology department have no constraints on what they need to do in 2020. This is what they have plans for in order for us to continue to fortify our 4G network, to continue with strong additions in the 5G as well as continue with our fiber build. And when it comes to the monetization of the fiber build, we’re already starting to do that.
  • Many of the fibers right now are going to our cell sites on air because that was a part of it. Then, of course, it has come a little bit later in monetization for our small and medium businesses and enterprise business, etc. But clearly, we’re already now seeing the benefits of doing that. So going into 2020, I think we have a very solid capital allocation for our capex.
  • Ronan Dunne (VZ CTO) already said in the beginning of the year that we’re going to have some 20 5G devices coming out in the market this year. So of course, we’re going to see more 5G devices coming out. It’s going to be more build in the markets in 2020 than we had last year. So of course, this is a year that there is going to be even more 5G things coming in. When it comes to any particular phones coming out in the market, we cannot really comment on it because that, we’ll leave to the company to do.
  • If this is a market which has a high degree of iOS, that means that when a 5G phone will come out from Apple, that will be important for many consumers to look into what they think is a good change. In our case, I think we’re building a unique 5G experience with our millimeter wave that nobody else is building and have the capability to do. So I think that’s really where the difference will come.
  • We already have the best 4G network as you have seen in the latest J.D. Power and RootMetrics. We’re going to continue to have that. So we’re going to give the best experience for customers. And we — and I’m confident that how we are building the network will make a big difference. And that’s why we also feel very confident if — with all these devices coming out, including if the iPhone would come out, that we will have a good chance to actually grab more customers that want to be on our network. When it comes to the spectrum and all of that, I mean, I think that I might have talked about this so many times. We have all the assets to deploy our 5G strategy when it comes to millimeter wave and using dynamic spectrum sharing, be available nationwide when our customers are ready.
  • Everything from spectrum to how you densify (wireless) networks and what type of software you put in, and that’s a long-term planning how to do that right. And I think that’s something where you — or people around us go wrong when I look at us because think about how we have been performing, and many actually thought that we would never sustain an unlimited. And the more the network is growing, we’re getting more and more headroom as we’re continuing deploying our software and the engineering capabilities we have in the company.
  • We think the C-band (3.7-to-4.2 GHz) is an important spectrum for many reasons. That frequency will be global. So roaming will be done on it, and that’s very important for U.S. market to get into that. And it’s very important for Verizon to get into that. But it’s not hindering our strategy right now to deploy a great 5G network and be able to capture the market for 5G.
  • On the CBRS, as you know, we have already started for quite a long time ago to do trials and see how it works, and it works fine. We think it’s a good addition to the portfolio that in order to see that we get good customer expectations. So we think CBRS is an important spectrum, even though it is sort of more share than anything else, but it’s going to be definitely something we’re using as it comes out.
  • Secondly, when it comes to the 5G Home, you’re confirming, actually what we have in front of us. The next-generation chipset that goes into the CP for 5G Home will come out. At least, the plan right now is in third quarter, which means that commercial product is probably coming out a little bit later because it takes some time from the chipset to the device. By then, we will have, of course, deployed far more millimeter wave across the country, so we will be able to start launching many more markets when that happens. So that will come back to a little bit more about that when have our Investor Day the 13th of February, talk a little bit more about it. But that’s in the grand scheme, the plans for 5G Home, and that’s no different from what we said half a year ago.
  • When it comes to the mix and match, we want to give our (residential) customers options on top of the broadband. If it’s the fiber broadband or if it’s the 5G Home broadband, we want to give them options. Of course, one option is always to have a broadband and having over-the-top services. But another is, of course, giving the mix and match option right now to see that they use the right packages that is more fitted for them. Still, of course, it’s what they can choose whatever channels you have because they come in packages. But the early — or early indication is, of course, that customers that has been on trial for a month, they clearly see what channels they’re using and what package we can suggest for that, that is going to be more optimized. So I think for us, we just think about our customers and where the market is going, and we want to give them the option of actually having different ways they can address the market when it comes to their content consumption. And I think it’s good for our customer experience, but it’s also good for our customers because all of them can do it. So as you said, it’s a little bit early, but I think that our customers are very happy that we’re giving them this option. And I think this is what everyone see where the market is going, meaning more and more over-the-top content is coming in and you want — you need thought, mixing and matching that. And here, we have a great opportunity given our service strategy, and we can work with all the type of option in the content market as we’re not owning any content.
  • We always do the trade-off between owning and leasing or sharing fiber with someone, and that is a very prudent or financially disciplined way of looking at our deployment. In many cases, we see it as owning it has really an advantage for us because of the multi-use of our network. Now we’re doing sites all the time. We’re going to create revenue for our business side. So we probably have a couple of years left on doing that. But in general, I feel good about the pace we have right now and the multi-use of the fiber we have. And I think this is one of the most critical assets in a network today — in today’s world, especially as we build Verizon Intelligent Edge Network and you want actually to start delivering the 5G experience that we’re expecting. We need this fiber to be there. So that’s basically where we are with the fiber.
  • We have already gotten Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) to work from the software point of view. And the majority of our baseband is ready for taking DSS. So what we have said, I’m not going to give you an exact date, but I’m going to tell you, we’re going to be ready when we feel the market is ready and our customers need to have that coverage. And again, remember, we want to have the best network performance-wise. We don’t want to deploy it because it’s called 5G. We want to see that we actually give a superior performance to our customers. And that’s why we think that the millimeter wave, what we’re doing there is extremely important because we talked about 10 to 20x, at least more throughput and speed than we have on the 4G network, and we still have the best 4G network. So I think that’s what we already assessed. When we meet at the Investor Day, we’re going to talk a little bit more about the technology sector.
  • When it comes to the 5G and where we are, I think that you saw last year that we had a strong deployment coming in during ’19, but of course, we have even higher ambitions in ’20. And we will also come back and talk a little bit about — more about that. But it goes in all three directions in our multipurpose network. It’s for the mobility case, for the home case, and it’s also for the 5G mobile edge compute case, not forgetting that, because all three of them are using our multipurpose network. And when it comes to use cases, I can do some of them.
  • On the mobile edge compute, we see a lot of optimization in factories. We see private 5G networks in order to keep the data and the security and the throughput in a facility, if that’s a campus, whatever, that use case has come up very early on.
  • What we can do with millimeter wave in the stadium, how we can use broadcasting cameras with 5G, a lot of new innovation, both with consumer, but also for the distribution of content. With our spectrum positioning, we basically are limited on the uplink when it comes to stadiums, which is the big blocker today in a stadium. So I think you’re going to see quite a lot next four or five days on consumer cases (at the NFL Superbowl in Miami, FL)  as well as we will continue to give you more insights to it the next couple of weeks and when we meet in New York here.
  • We have told you where 5G will come in, which is more of 2021. So we work with assets we have right now, but we build also a great foundation on 5G going forward for the years after.

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2020 Priorities for Verizon: Executing 2020 from a position of strength

1. Strengthen & Grow Core Business
• Extend our network leadership through continued innovation
• Strengthen and grow core business in Consumer, Business & Media
2. Leverage Assets to Drive New Growth
• Scale 5G / MEC / OneFiber & other assets for new growth
• Differentiate brand through trust & innovation
3. Drive Financial Discipline & Strength in Balance Sheet
• Accelerate revenue and earnings growth to drive strong cash flows
• Disciplined capital and operating spend
4. Infuse a PurposeDriven & CustomerCentric Culture
• Put customers at the center of everything we do
• Drive responsible business as part of our strategy

References:

https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2020/01/30/verizon-communications-inc-vz-q4-2019-earnings-cal.aspx

https://www.verizon.com/about/investors/quarterly-reports/4q-2019-earnings-conference-call-webcast

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-ends-2019-highest-4q-wireless-adds-six-years-increased-cash-flow-and-revenue-growth

 

Verizon FioS will no longer offer home television and internet on bundled plans

On January 9, 2020, Verizon stated it was eliminating multi-year contracts, multi-service bundles, weird added fees at the bottom of bills, and other nickel and dime cable charges. Instead, Fios will offer Internet at a couple of speeds, priced at $40 to $80 monthly, and a couple of TV packages, priced from $50 to $90. The channel line ups of the TV packages will be more customizable than in the past, as well.

“Customers have been loud and clear about their frustrations with cable, and we’ve listened. As a result, we’re transforming our approach to Internet and TV offers by giving customers more choices and more transparency,” says Frank Boulben, Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing and Products at Verizon. “Customers are tired of having to buy a bundle with services they don’t want to get the best rates, and then discover that those rates didn’t include extra fees and surcharges. We’re putting an end to the traditional bundle contract and putting customers in control.”

To replace bundles, Verizon has chosen to give consumers greater flexibility through what it calls Mix & Match.  With Mix & Match, Verizon customers can choose between three internet tiers ranging from $40 to $80 per month, and from cable packages offered either through Verizon’s in-house Fios service or through the company’s partnership with YouTube TV.  Verizon offers three Internet speed options for FiOS customers – 100 Mbps, 300 Mbps and Gigabit Connection.

NOTE:  Triple-play bundles refer to long-term contracts with a company such as Comcast Corp. or Charter Communications Inc. that provide internet, television and landline phone service for one “discounted” rate. These packages force you to have an old-school home phone number, seemingly just for telemarketers to call, and dozens of TV channels you’ll never watch but will nevertheless subsidize. However, many subscribers only want a fast internet connection to binge on Netflix or Amazon Prime and gain access to a handful of their favorite network shows.

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Mix & Match builds on Verizon’s strategy to adapt to changing consumer habits; the company has reported a net loss in Fios TV subscribers every quarter since 2016 – coinciding with the rise of subscription-based internet streaming services.

Consumers can change their service selection each month, whereas Verizon had previously offered one- and two-year contracts for discounted introductory bundles. This practice sowed frustration among consumers, as many wanted internet alone but were forced to also buy home television, or because the service price escalated after the introductory contract expired, Verizon SVP Frank Boulben told The Wall Street Journal.

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AT&T is emblematic of the limitations of bundling in a sufficiently competitive environment: The company used lots of debt to pay over $150 billion to purchase DirecTV and Time Warner ($67 billion acquisition of satellite television provider DirecTV in 2015 and $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2018). The goal was to build up its media assets and combine with its wireline and wireless networks to distribute new content.  Unfortunately for AT&T, it hasn’t been able to leverage those combined assets via bundles in a way that drives consumer interest and subscriptions.  AT&T executives proclaimed the mergers would bring “a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers.”

Many Wall Street analysts at the time expressed concern that the debt incurred from the company’s mergers would make that goal untenable.  And they were right!  AT&T’s bottom line has been bleeding from loss of DirecTV customers while they have not yet been able to monetize the content obtained from Time Warner.

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As Verizon runs into similar problems in the home, it’s increasing the modularity of its product options and also expanding into segments like VR and cloud gaming. How Verizon fares with this new approach in its home business will be an instructive lesson for the wireless industry as a whole — particularly as mobile operators continue to pursue bundling as a strategy outside the home as well, pairing mobile offerings with media to draw in and retain mobile subscribers.

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References:

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-disrupts-cable-industry

https://www.businessinsider.com/verizon-discontinues-bundling-internet-cable-services-2020-1

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-01-09/verizon-breaks-the-cable-bundle-but

U.S. telcos on 5G rollouts (“vague promises”), devices, IoT/smart cities

Here’s what AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon said about their 5G network rollouts, soon-to-be available devices, and Smart City plans at CES 2020:

AT&T on 5G Devices, Network Plans:

Carrier and media goliath AT&T talked about 5G devices at this year’s CES event in Las Vegas, NV.  Currently, AT&T only sells one 5G-capable phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, but AT&T plans to have 15 5G phones available for use on its low-band 5G spectrum during 2020 (see Comment in the box below this article). The Dallas-based service provider said that other mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets, and hotspots will also be available this year, but no exact number of products were provided.

AT&T’s low-band 5G network went live in December 2019 and is currently available in parts of 19 cities. The carrier’s other 5G network that is built on millimeter-wave and is referred to as 5G Plus is live in parts of 35 cities. AT&T said that it plans to cover 200 million people with its 5G network by this summer.

Sprint IoT, Smart City Updates:

Wireless provider Sprint could merge with T-Mobile any day now, but the Overland Park, Kansas-based carrier hasn’t slowed down in the meantime. Sprint took to CES to launch several new offerings and update the market on its IoT plans.

Sprint unveiled its Certainty network design model, which unites its entire business wireline portfolio, including its wireless, IoT, and security solutions. The carrier also launched IoT Factory 2.0, a dedicated platform that solution providers and businesses can use to build custom IoT solutions for small-to-mid sized businesses in the food service, healthcare and agriculture space.

Chris Brydon, Regional Vice President Sales, Sprint Business Northwest Region via LinkedIn:

We believe hashtagIoT has the power to improve people’s lives. Here’s a story illustrating how an IoT application can be so much more than just a cold, lifeless piece of tech. Watch the very human difference it makes in the lives of a man and his family. https://lnkd.in/gdyeT9N hashtagWorksForBusiness

Sprint updated the market on its Smart City initiative on Tuesday. Specifically in Georgia, the provider said that in 2020 “micropositioning” technology, which combines next-generation wireless technologies and small cells will be installed within city infrastructure in areas to enable real-world navigation for autonomous machines, more connected sensors and IoT solution testing in its innovation Center for solutions such as refrigeration and monitoring, and security robots in Peachtree Corners’ Town Hall. Sprint also has plans to integrate additional Smart City technology in Greenville, South Carolina, and Arizona State University.

T-Mobile Talks 5G, Avoids Sprint Mega-Merger Talk:

T-Mobile didn’t address the main topic on everyone’s mind when thinking about the Magenta-colored carrier: its in-progress $26 billion mega-merger with wireless competitor Sprint. Instead, the “Un-Carrier” took to the show to highlight its 5G connectivity.

In a surprising move last month, the Bellevue, Wash.-based provider launched its nationwide 5G network using 600 MHz spectrum acquired in the recent incentive auction, as well as two 5G phones capable of using its 600 MHz spectrum. T-Mobile originally planned to launch the network in 2020.

 Verizon 5G Devices and Ultra Wideband Availability:

AT&T’s biggest competitor, Verizon, also came to CES armed with 5G updates. Compared to AT&T’s 15 devices, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon vowed to have 20 5G-capable devices in 2020 and said these devices would be competitively priced anywhere between $600-$800. Currently, Verizon has four 5G-capable smartphones. Subscribers interested in 5G will have to pay an additional $10 on top of their current unlimited data plan, Verizon said, but the company didn’t name any specific device manufacturers.

Verizon’s ultra wideband 5G network is available in parts of 30 cities today, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, as well as Hoboken, N.J. Des Moines, Iowa; and Providence, RI.  Please see Comment in the box below this article.

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Mike Dano of Lightreading wrote that AT&T and Verizon made “vague (uncertain?) promises” for their 5G mmWave networks:

in a New Year-themed post, AT&T’s Scott Mair wrote that “you’re in for an exhilarating ride on the AT&T 5G network in 2020 and beyond,” but he did not offer any specifics about what the carrier will do with its “5G+” network. Then, during a subsequent appearance at an investor event this week, AT&T CFO John Stephens said only that the operator’s 5G network would “continue to improve and grow.”

Similarly, Verizon touted its “vision” for its network in 2020 in a release issued this week, but said only that customers should “expect more great innovations and technology advancements from us in 2020 including a more aggressive build out of our 5G network.” At that same investor event, Verizon’s Ronan Dunne said “we will be continuing to drive hard” in 5G, but didn’t offer any specifics.

The bottom line here is that neither operator is offering any concrete information on the number of cities, cell sites or customers it plans to touch with mmWave 5G in 2020. As Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown writes, it’s time for these operators to show their hands.

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From a marketwatch.com article titled: The long-promised ‘Year of 5G’ arrives with more promises and little 5G

For years, telecommunications companies and gadget makers have invaded CES to talk about how big 5G was going to be in 2020.

At CES 2020 though the promise was still unfulfilled as the faster wireless service is still spotty and not entirely what was envisioned.

Without the premier connections that were promised, it is questionable how many consumers will buy the more expensive 5G-enabled devices that were introduced at the giant trade show this year, even though the same glowing predictions of a new future were readily available throughout Las Vegas.

5G promises faster data speeds, a reduction in lag time, and greater density for smart devices, all things that could eventually be catalysts for futuristic applications like autonomous driving and connected cities. More immediately, carriers are focused on exposing businesses and customers to those faster data speeds, where and when they can.

Verizon Communications Inc. expects to launch 20 devices with access to 5G by the end of the year, up from the seven that currently exist, according to Tami Erwin, who heads the company’s business group. AT&T Inc. mobility executive Kevin Petersen told MarketWatch at CES that accessibility will also be a key theme in the year ahead.

T-Mobile US claimed that it conducted a nationwide 5G rollout at the end of last year, providing access over a greater area but at slower data speeds than competitors. Verizon and AT&T both plan to add new cities to their coverage later this year, with AT&T still expecting to have nationwide coverage this year also.

Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, cautions that these upgrades won’t happen right away due to some technical aspects of the 5G rollout. The more exciting type of 5G, millimeter-wave spectrum, primarily works outdoors and on campuses where it’s been specifically deployed. Sub-6 5G service works indoors and offers some benefits in speed and latency, but it’s a less dramatic step up from the 4G service consumers have come to know.

“The pieces are coming together but the forward-looking benefits are still a few years off,” O’Donnell said. Part of the issue is that 5G currently runs on top of 4G, rather than in a stand alone manner. Moving to stand alone 5G requires that carriers “refarm” spectrum frequencies from 4G to 5G, but they’re hesitant to make that big leap right away while most customers are still using 4G connections and while few phones support 5G.

“That’s like opening a 10-lane highway only for people with electric cars,” he said, since only a small minority of drivers would have access.

Making 5G a reality is a bit of a “chicken and egg” scenario, according to O’Donnell, given that carriers thinking about moving away from 4G want there to be enough devices in the market to take advantage of the new wireless standard, and consumers want to make sure 5G networks are broad enough before investing in a mobile device that works on the network.

The device part of the equation showed signs of progress at CES, with connected PCs being one notable category. Lenovo Group Ltd. announced it will launch in the spring the Yoga 5G two-in-one device, which it says is the first 5G PC. Always-connected PCs let customers rely on cellular connectivity rather than hunt for WiFi networks, and the 5G products shown by Lenovo, HP Inc. HPQ, and others offer faster speeds than 4G ones currently on the market.

Those devices are more expensive than competitive gadgets without access to the technology, though, and that will most likely continue to be the case. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. will be holding a smartphone launch in early February, where the company is expected to introduce a family of 5G Galaxy devices, and Apple is thought to be planning a 5G iPhone rollout later this year, with analysts expecting the 5G versions of those popular smartphones to carry a higher price tag.

Instinet analyst Jeffrey Kvaal expects “a large increase” in 5G unit sales for 2020, up from a small base of sales last year, but he thinks most of these sales will come at the expense of 4G devices, rather than a rush of upgrades. He estimates that 5G could boost a phone’s retail price by at least $75.

Today’s devices tend to be in the $1,000-plus range, but consumers should “start to see prices coming down, which ultimately helps the adoption curve,” as more mid-tier devices come to market this year equipped with 5G capabilities. Verizon’s consumer chief executive Ronan Dunne said at a Citi investor conference earlier this week that there could be 5G devices priced below $600 by the end of the year.

AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens told investors at the Citi conference that trying to predict 5G unit sales is missing the point a bit, since handset sales are “not a profitable enterprise for a business like ours.” The company sees various new service revenue opportunities from being able to compete “in the geographies where our service has gotten much better.”

The promise of 5G goes well beyond smartphones, and executives pointed out that the services that have developed in the past decade likely wouldn’t have existed without the move to 4G.

“If someone was watching a streaming video on a connection 10 years ago, you would’ve swatted the phone out of their hand and said they were going to use up the whole monthly data plan in 13 seconds,” Qualcomm’s  vice president of engineering John Smee told MarketWatch. Now, streaming over wireless is commonplace. Verizon’s Erwin noted that the proliferation of ride hailing also wouldn’t have been possible without the upgrade in data speeds.

AT&T’s Petersen thinks it’s too soon to know what the killer use case for 5G will be, but he’s upbeat about its ability to provide upgraded experiences in gaming, translation and medicine. A reduction in latency, or lag time, could create better responsiveness for gamers and reduce awkward pauses when people are using mobile devices to translate from one language to another in real time. Doctors could more easily monitor patients remotely after procedures by using connected devices.

Over time, the expected benefits of 5G and the growth of accessible smart devices could change the way consumers and workers think about doing data-heavy tasks. Smee even suggested that it could replace the need for Wi-Fi for most users.

“If you think of your cable modem or your DSL and you look at the rates you get compared to the 5G data rate, all of a sudden wireless is the preferred medium and that’s a big game changer versus the idea that you have to have wired connectivity to have high data rates,” he said.

References:

https://www.crn.com/slide-shows/networking/ces-2020-top-telecom-carriers-talk-5g-new-devices-and-iot

https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/heres-why-it-might-be-time-to-worry-about-mmwave-5g/a/d-id/756706?

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ces-2020-the-long-promised-year-of-5g-arrives-with-more-promises-and-little-5g-2020-01-10

AT&T and Verizon to use Integrated Access and Backhaul for 2021 5G networks

AT&T sketched out its plans to start testing Integrated Access and Backhaul (IAB) technology during 2020, saying it can prove a reliable backhaul alternative to fiber in certain cases, such as expanding millimeter-wave locations to reach more isolated areas. Verizon also confirmed, without adding any details, that it plans to use IAB, which is an architecture for the 5G cellular networks in which the same infrastructure and spectral resources will be used for both access and backhaul.   IAB will be described in 3GPP Release 16 (see 3GPP section below for more details).

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“Fiber is still required in close proximity to serve the capacity coming from the nodes, so if it can be extended to each of the nodes, it will be the first choice,” said Gordon Mansfield, VP of Converged Access and Device Technology at AT&T. in an statement emailed to FierceWireless.

“From there, IAB can be used to extend to hard to reach and temporary locations that are in close proximity. As far as timing, we will do some testing in 2020 but 2021 is when we expect it to be used more widely,” he said.

Verizon also told Fierce that it has plans to incorporate IAB as a tool. It doesn’t have any details to share at this time, but “it’s certainly on the roadmap,” an unknown Verizon representative said.

Earlier this year, Mike Dano of Lightreading reported:

Verizon’s Glenn Wellbrock said he expects to add “Integrated Access Backhaul” technology to the operator’s network-deployment toolkit next year, which would allow Verizon to deploy 5G more easily and cheaply into locations where it can’t get fiber.

“It’s a really powerful tool,” Glenn Wellbrock, director of architecture, design and planning for Verizon’s optical transport network, explained during a keynote presentation here Thursday at Light Reading’s 5G Transport & the Edge event.

Wellbrock said IAB will be part of the 3GPP’s “Release 16” set of 5G specifications, which is expected to be completed by July 2020. However, Wellbrock said it will likely take equipment vendors some time to implement the technology in actual, physical products. That means 2020 would be the earliest that Verizon could begin deploying the technology, he added.

Wellbrock said IAB would allow Verizon to install 5G antennas into locations where routing a fiber cable could be difficult or expensive, such as across a set of train tracks.

However, Wellbrock said that IAB will be but one tool in Verizon’s network-deployment toolbox, and that Verizon will continue to use fiber for the bulk of its backhaul needs. Indeed, he pointed out that Verizon is now deploying roughly 1,400 miles of new fiber lines per month in dozens of cities around the country.

He said Verizon could ultimately use IAB in up to 10-20% of its 5G sites, once the technology is widely available. He said that would represent an increase from Verizon’s current use of wireless backhaul technologies running in the E-band; he said less than 10% of the operator’s sites currently use wireless backhaul. He said IAB is better than current wireless backhaul technologies like those that use the E-band because it won’t require a separate antenna for the backhaul link. As indicated by the “integrated” portion of the “integrated access backhaul” moniker, IAB supports wireless connections both for regular 5G users and for backhaul links using the same antenna.

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According to 5G Americas, the larger bandwidths associated with 5G New Radio (NR), such as those found in mmWave spectrum, as well as the native support of massive MIMO and multi-beams, are expected to facilitate and/or optimize the design and performance of IAB.

5G Americas maintains that the primary goals of IAB are to:

  • Improve capacity by supporting networks with a higher density of access points in areas with only sparse fiber availability.
  • Improve coverage by extending the range of the wireless network, and by providing coverage for isolated coverage gaps. For example, if the user equipment (UE) is behind a building, an access point can provide coverage to that UE with the access point being connected wirelessly to the donor cell.
  • Provide indoor coverage, such as with an IAB access point on top of a building that serves users within the building.

5G Americas also said that in practice, IAB is more relevant for mmWave because lower frequency spectrum may be seen as too valuable (and also too slow) to use for backhaul. The backhaul link, where both endpoints of the link are stationary, is especially suitable for the massive beam-forming possible at the higher frequencies.

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3GPP Release 16 status of work items related to IAB:

(Note: Study is 100% complete, but others are 0% or 50% complete):

750047 FS_NR_IAB … Study onNR_IAB 100%
820170 NR_IAB-Core … Core part: NR_IAB 0%
820270 NR_IAB-Performance 850002 … CT aspects of NR_IAB 0%
830021 FS_NR_IAB_Sec … Study on Security for NR_IAB 50%
850020 … Security for NR_IAB 0%
850002 … CT aspects of NR_IAB 0%

References:

https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/at-t-expects-to-test-iab-2020-use-it-more-widely-2021

https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/verizon-to-use-integrated-access-backhaul-for-fiber-less-5g/d/d-id/754752

Verizon: strong wireless growth, 5G ultra wideband, relaunch of “5G Home” service, much more

Verizon reported Q3 net income of $5.3 billion, compared to $5.6 billion in the year-ago period. Total consolidated revenue came in at $32.89 billion versus $32.61 million a year ago.

The company, which is the #1 U.S. wireless telco (in subscribers) reported strong wireless growth in the third quarter.  It added 615,000 postpaid (monthly contract) smartphones in Q3; and signed on 444,000 pay-as-you-go prepaid customers. Wireless revenue for the quarter was $23.6 billion.

CEO Hans Vestberg said on the earnings call:

And as you can see in our operation performance, we had a really good quarter when it comes to wireless additions here, one of the best quarter — third quarter we had in several years.

The company has deployed its 5G Ultra Wideband (its 5G mobile service) in 15 markets and is committed to deploy it in 30 markets by year-end.

Verizon has relaunched its fixed wireless “5G Home” fixed wireless broadband service in Chicago, using the 3GPP 5G New Radio release 15 spec, rather than the Verizon proprietary fixed 5G specification used for the initial launch in October 2018.  Verizon said that maximum download speeds via 5G Home remains at 1 Gbit/s, with 300 Mbit/s as the promised minimum speed.

“It’s a new business model,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said on Friday’s call. “Now we have it on the global standard [1], and now we have it on the self-install.”

Note 1.  Once again, Vestberg is confused.  3GPP Release 15 (and any other 3GPP spec) is NOT a standard.

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Vestberg on the earnings call:

We’re also doing a lot of things in One Fiber, continue to have a very high pace in that. And that One Fiber is so important for our overall Intelligent Edge Network that we are deploying in the company in order to realize the market-purpose network to gain all the efficiencies and serve our customers even better over time. So in short, a lot of progress in the network.

We continue to deploy also 5G Ultra Wideband in stadiums especially now with NFL, 13 stadiums when the season kicks off having 5G coverage. This is important for us because it’s part of the dense urban areas where you have a lot of viewers at the same time when really our 5G is coming to excel. Because of the 5G build that we’re doing with our assets is — we’re making a real big difference here.

We’re going to launch the first 5G mobile edge compute center in the fourth quarter.  (Verizon is) engaging much more with large enterprises because with the 5G platform and 8 currencies, we are now a lot of interactions. We announced in this quarter, for example, collaboration with SAP, Corning. All of them are use cases for the 5G mobile edge compute. So we’re excited all that opportunity we’re creating with the 5G mobile edge compute with the largest companies in the market.

CFO Matt Ellis on Verizon FioS and Business/Enterprise segments:

Fios Internet net additions of 30,000 were relatively flat sequentially and down year-over-year. Fios Video results continued to be impacted by the ongoing shift away from linear video offerings with losses of 67,000. Our customers see value in our high-quality broadband offering paired with multiple choices for video through linear TV bundles or over-the-top options, such as YouTube TV and the recently announced Disney+.

Business wireless volumes remain strong with a 12% increase in gross adds for the quarter primarily within small and medium business and public sector. Postpaid net adds were 408,000 compared to 364,000 in the prior year. This includes 205,000 phones, 112,000 tablets and 91,000 other connected devices. Our continued strong customer loyalty across the Business segment led to phone churn of 0.98%, which is relatively flat sequentially and up slightly over the prior year. Total postpaid churn of 1.22% was up 5 basis points compared to the prior year. Total postpaid device activations were up 5.7% while our retail postpaid upgrade rate was 4.5% versus 4.8% in the prior year.

From a customer group perspective, global enterprise revenues declined 2.4%, driven by legacy pricing pressure and technology shifts. Wholesale revenues declined by 13.7% driven by price compression and volume declines, which we expect to continue in a highly competitive marketplace. Small and medium business revenue increased 6.2% driven by wireless service and Fios growth, partially offset by ongoing declines in traditional data and voice services. Public sector and other revenue increased 1.2% as a result of growth in wireless and wireline products and services.

Vestberg, answering a question from Timothy Horan:

Hans, can you give us maybe some more thoughts what you think people are going to do with gigabit speeds instead of megabits? When we rolled out 4G, we had a lot of new innovative kind of applications. Just any thoughts on that as you’re talking to the Fortune 500 companies. And are there ways for you maybe to participate in some of the revenue from some of these new applications with lower — also maybe lower latency? Just any more thoughts what you’re seeing on use cases.

Vestberg’s reply:

5G Home is a totally new way how we use the technology, which we have never been able to do before because a stand-alone fixed wireless access can never be sustainable financially. In this case, it is.

Then of course when you think about the 8 currencies coming out from 5G, I think that our conversation with the large enterprises today is a lot about the latency and the mobile edge compute. Because suddenly, you can transform your factory with robotics by having a low latency. You don’t need a wired factory, so the future digital factory will have 5G. We see also much bigger 5G private networks, where you get security much higher because it’s going to be your network. You define your network, you have a compute and storage for your enterprise. This is a new way of charging and actually interacting with our customer. And sometimes, there’s going to be a software in between that come from a software company, so we need to work with them as well.

And as I said earlier, I mean this quarter, we’re going to launch our first 5G mobile edge compute center. So we are on the path of doing this, which actually will add more opportunity. Then on the Consumer side, which usually question starts with, which are now end with because I see so many other opportunities, is of course AR/VR. We see now quite a lot of money coming into the ventures side when it comes to 5G innovation. And I think that as we move into 2020, we’re going to see much more. We have our 5G challenge, which we announced at CES where we had a lot of companies participate what they’re going to do with 5G. It ranged from everything what they can do with 5G.

I think we’re at the moment of 4G, but way bigger. When 4G came, I didn’t know what type of application and new service companies would show up. I think this is far bigger that we’re standing in front of right now, and we have much more insights to it as well.

We close with a Verizon assessment from Phillip Leasure:

Verizon has continued to engage in conservative and well thought out initiates compared to the excitement and drama of its competitors.  It has not recently engaged in any historic mergers, it has not made any large corporate purchases to try to move into new sectors and it has fended of lower-priced competitors and continued to add subscribers.  It has made smaller investments and purchases designed to strategically enhance the future of the business. It is clearly the market dominator in its sector and for the most part, has continued to focus on its core business and engage in competitive deals with other content creation companies to provide services rather than try to buy out content creators to provide services to their customers.  So far this has helped them avoid taking on excessive levels of debt and held margins steady. We’ll see if this continues to be a winning strategy going forward for the top dog of telecommunications.

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Verizon CTO Upbeat on 5G Millimeter Wave vs Lack of mid band spectrum?

Millimeter wave spectrum “opens up so many possibilities,” said Verizon Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady at an investor conference today.  Malady made his comments at the Wells Fargo Telecom 5G Forum, which was webcast.  “The cloud will go closer and closer and closer,” he said without providing any rationale or support for that statement.

The latest pre-standard 5G technology was designed to support speeds of a gigabit or more, along with lower-latency 9via 3GPP Release 16 not yet completed) and other attributes.  However, getting the highest wirelessspeeds requires wide swaths of spectrum that are nearly impossible to come by in frequency bands traditionally used for cellular service. Wide swaths of spectrum are available in high-frequency millimeter wave bands – the downside is that range is not as great as with lower-frequency bands which will require many more small cells in a given geographical area.

5G pioneers AT&T and Verizon used millimeter wave for their initial deployments, but as Sprint and T-Mobile get into the game or make plans to do so, they have touted their ability to quickly cover broad areas by using lower-frequency spectrum, although that didn’t stop T-Mobile from spending more than $842 million to obtain millimeter wave spectrum in the recent auctions. Likewise, AT&T and Verizon have said they expect to deploy 5G in lower-frequency bands as well as in the millimeter wave band.

Verizon 5G Millimeter Wave
Nevertheless, Verizon executives get most fired up when they talk about the millimeter wave band.

Malady offered an interesting data point to support his millimeter wave enthusiasm. Before obtaining millimeter wave spectrum through the acquisition of Straight Path, Verizon had amassed licenses for an average of 160 MHz of spectrum in all bands nationwide. In comparison, the company used four segments, apparently each comprised of 100 MHz, for a total of 400 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum to support its initial mobile 5G launches in Chicago and Minneapolis. And according to Malady, “we’re working on bringing [that] to eight” segments.

Malady didn’t discuss the speeds Verizon is experiencing with mobile service, but he noted that some customers are obtaining gigabit speeds using fixed wireless 5G service in the millimeter wave band, which Verizon has launched in four markets.

AT&T has said it has seen speeds of 1.2 Gbps in mobile 5G trials using a 400 MHz channel over a distance of 150 meters.  More on AT&T’s mmWave spectrum holdings here.

Millimeter wave distance limitations are driving a change in network topology, Malady noted. “As the network [becomes] flattened, the antennas [are] smaller and lower,” he explained. “Wireless becomes fiber with antennas hanging off of it.”

As Verizon builds out more fiber to support this model, the fiber also can be used by the company’s other business units, he added.

There may be one additional requirement before 5G can reach its full potential, and Malady discussed that as well. He pointed to the example of police using facial recognition to help find an abducted person by comparing a photo with numerous public cameras, then identifying the closest officer to the abductee’s location. Applications such as that will require processing power located closer to the network edge.

 

References:

Verizon CTO: 5G Millimeter Wave “Opens Up So Many Possibilities”

https://www.verizon.com/about/our-company/5g/what-millimeter-wave-technology

AT&T owns >630 MHz nationwide of mmWave spectrum + HPE partnership for Edge Networking & Computing

 

https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/verizon-ceo-mmwave-early-days-but-engineering-team-good-it

https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/ve

rizon-mmwave-is-not-a-coverage-spectrum-for-5g/d/d-id/750980

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Meanwhile, carriers and analysts say that a lack of mid-band spectrum is delaying the deployment of wireless services. The Federal Communications Commission has recently proposed allowing carriers to share parts of the Educational Broadband Service spectrum in this range, a plan that a number of educational groups oppose.

The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) 

 

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