Verizon’s planned deployment of mobile 5G service remains on track, but CEO Hans Vestberg (pictured) revealed the operator’s expansion of its 5G home internet product has hit a snag as it waits for the release of standards-based equipment.

The operator launched its residential 5G product in four cities in October 2018 using a proprietary standard, but said it planned to transition to the 3GPP New Radio (NR) standard for its mobile launch and fixed expansion.

However, during an earnings call, Vestberg warned it may take longer than originally expected for 5G NR home equipment to become available as smartphone launches take precedence: “As the industry is evolving, the first focus for the industry is actually to do chipsets for smartphones and then secondary the next generation of chipsets comes on the CPE side.”

He added Verizon expects standards-based 5G home equipment to become available in the second half of 2019, with handsets due in the first half.

Though all of Verizon’s major competitors have outlined their 5G network plans, Vestberg declined to provide similar coverage projections for 2019 and 2020 for “competitive reasons”.

Lacklustre earnings
The news came as Verizon reported uninspiring financials for Q4 2018, with consolidated revenue up 1 per cent year-on-year to $34.3 billion. Full year 2018 revenue of $130.9 billion increased nearly 4 per cent from $126 billion in 2017.

Net income attributable to Verizon plummeted to $1.9 billion in Q4 from $18.7 billion in Q4 2017, though it should be noted the latter figure included a one-time tax perk of $16.8 billion.

Verizon’s 5G progress isn’t expected to have a significant impact on its financials in 2019: it forecast only low single-digit percentage revenue growth for the full year. That guidance reiterated previous statements from CFO Matt Ellis that 5G wouldn’t have a substantial impact on results until at least 2020.

Prepaid flounders
Though the operator posted total post paid net additions of 1.2 million in Q4, Verizon’s prepaid division continued to suffer despite attempts to revive the business.

The segment lost 90,000 subscribers in Q4, lower than the 184,000 lost in Q4 2017, but a fifth straight quarter of decline. Total prepaid connections for the full year 2018 dropped 14 per cent from 5.4 million to 4.6 million.