Verizon clarified mobile 5G does not form part of a plan to deploy a fixed-wireless broadband network in 2018.

While other operators including AT&T have left some ambiguity around their 5G plans for 2018, Verizon CFO Matt Ellis said on the operator’s 3Q earnings call mobile 5G is “certainly not a 2018 activity” despite a push by the operator to accelerate deployment timelines.

The statement is consistent with views from vendors including Qualcomm, which said it’s gearing up to support commercial 5G deployments in a 2019 timeframe. T-Mobile US is also aiming to begin mobile 5G rollouts in 2019, but AT&T executives at a conference in September indicated they’re on track to launch a 5G offering at the end of 2018 (a goal first detailed in March, and reiterated in August). The executives did not specify whether AT&T’s service will be fixed or mobile.

While a wireless 5G service is not on Verizon’s horizon, Ellis reiterated the operator plans to launch a fixed-wireless broadband offering in 2018. He said Verizon is learning a lot from ongoing millimetre wave (mmWave) fixed-wireless 5G field trials in 11 cities. While more details about its progress are set to be released later in the current quarter, Ellis said some of Verizon’s findings include the “fact that we can deliver service without needing line-of-sight”.

The operator was also able to deliver service to apartment blocks more than 20 floors in height, achieving a mark higher than Verizon initially thought possible, Ellis added.

LTE workhorse
According to Ellis, just over 50 per cent of Verizon’s mid- and low-band spectrum assets are being used to support the 4G LTE network which will be its workhorse in the run up to 5G.

Ellis said Verizon is planning to boost the LTE network with the deployment of additional spectrum assets in 2018, mentioning the possibility of lighting additional airwaves in the 850MHz, PCS and AWS bands. Additionally, Ellis said Verizon will continue to deploy more fibre for the network backbone, but noted those channels will serve both wireless and Verizon’s other businesses, like its IoT segment.

The operator is also looking ahead to closing deals with XO Communications and Straight Path Communications in 2018 which will boost its spectrum. Ellis said Verizon will evaluate participation in any upcoming spectrum auctions once details on the airwaves up for grabs become available.