Verizon was the first major carrier to launch commercial 5G services last October, a feat achieved with standard 5G home hardware. According to the company, the company would upgrade to standards-based 5G technology as it becomes available. During today's conference call with analysts in the fourth quarter of 2018, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said standard-compliant 5G home hardware will not be available until the second half of 2019. This effectively confirms that the 4-city 5G home network is not growing far beyond the network's current footprint until then.
Unlike the AT & T competitors, who were waiting for standard-compliant 5G hardware guaranteed to work with 5G smartphones, Verizon initially wanted to get to market with a 5G form factor, though this would include the use of unfinished 5G hardware meant. To meet the start date of 2018, the company installed standard 5G hardware in towers and in customers' homes. This allows home users to reach speeds up to 1 Gbps – with one caveat. At some point, the network and the home devices would have to be updated either by firmware or by replacement hardware in any case at the expense of the operator.
Therefore, Verizon needed to decide to build a large 5G network with unfinished parts or follow a more gradual approach. Ultimately, the airline decided to launch 5G in just four US cities – Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento – and only in parts of those cities. In December, the company said it would wait until standards-based equipment was available to expand further.
Vestberg said today that Verizon's 5G was "fully deployed in the four cities we chose" and confirmed that further expansion was "waiting for CPE equipment". He explained that the launch of 5G smartphones has become the "first priority" for device manufacturers. This year, 5G CPE home routers are consistently taking a back seat. "We expect to see CPE hardware become the standard in the second half of 2019 this year," Vestberg said, noting that partners – including Motorola and Samsung – were working to launch smartphones for the market To prepare Verizon.
Even at this late stage, it is still unclear when the 5G phone will be launched and the Verizon network will be expanded to accommodate it. The carrier has repeatedly asked to provide schedules for its 5G launch, most recently at CES and again during the call. Asked by an analyst to give a sense of the expected 5G balance sheet for 2019 and 2020, Vestberg declined and said it was "nothing we want to disclose for competitive reasons."
The holdup seems to be largely hardware related. Vestberg said Verizon had been preparing for its 5G rollout for years, but was waiting for industry to catch up to offer both private and mobile services. "We will go fast once we have all the parts [in place] for 5G home and 5G mobility …. We have to see that the ecosystem is … alike [as] ready, as Verizon is now. "

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