LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS AMERICAS 2018: Verizon played the trump card as US operators competed for headlines ahead of Mobile World Congress Americas (MWC Americas), announcing its fixed wireless access (FWA) 5G product would launch in four US cities next month.

Residents in Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Los Angeles and Sacramento, California will be the first to gain access to the residential broadband service, called Verizon 5G Home. Customers in these areas will be able to sign-up from Thursday (13 September) and receive the service on 1 October.

The service is based on Verizon’s own proprietary 5G standard (5GTF), with the operator moving to the official 3GPP standard (NR) of 5G for future mobile 5G launches.

Early adopters of Verizon 5G Home will get the service free for three months, after which it will cost $50 per month for current Verizon Wireless customers with a qualifying smartphone plan. Non-Verizon Wireless customers will pay $70 per month. No annual contract is required. The operator is promising “typical” speeds of 300Mb/s and peaks of nearly 1Gb/s.

Last month the operator announced content deals with Apple TV and YouTube.

5G battle
The news came as US operators staked their claims for 5G leadership, making a barrage of announcements as senior executives prepared to face-off on stage at MWC Americas.

Top-tier leaders from Sprint, Verizon and AT&T are set to speak across the opening four keynotes before all four major US operators go head-to-head during the 5G CTO session in the afternoon on 13 September.

Judging by the number of 5G claims made in recent days, MWC Americas looks set to be the culmination of months of jostling for position.

Earlier this week, AT&T revealed another batch of US cities set to be hooked-up to mobile 5G by the end of the year, in addition to claiming the world’s first 5G data transfer over mmWave using standards-based kit and a device with a “mobile form factor”.

Yesterday (11 September) T-Mobile inked a $3.5 billion contract with Ericsson for 5G New Radio hardware and software for use across all spectrum bands available to the operator. The deal comes six weeks after the operator signed a contract for the same value with Nokia for hardware and software to support its next-generation network, raising its total 5G equipment investment to $7 billion.

Sprint focused its pre-show announcements on a demonstration with Nokia, which the pair billed as the first live showcase of a 5G New Radio connection made over a dual mode-capable Massive MIMO radio. The operator also announced it would use the show to discuss the use of 5G for artificial intelligence in partnership with parent SoftBank.

Verizon also unveiled “5G Ultra Wideband” on the eve of the show – branding it looks set to use to illustrate the power of its next generation service.

Outside of the conference tracks, the operators and their partners appear poised to make further announcements in a bid to grasp the 5G advantage, in addition to hosting demonstrations in the exhibition halls.