Verizon anticipates indoor 5G without Wi-Fi

Verizon is preparing for a 5G world where Wi-Fi won't be in the picture, but new solutions will propel millimeter wave indoors in many places.

Asked about Wi-Fi offload trends during a Citi investor conference on Tuesday, Verizon EVP and Consumer Group CEO Ronan Dunne said most people would say somewhere between 70% or 75% of traffic on a device today happens over a Wi-Fi network versus cellular.

In a world of 5G millimeter wave, “we don’t see the need for Wi-Fi in the future because we have a more secure network environment. We have much higher performance criteria and we have the ability to hand off sessions, et cetera et cetera, so our view is that when fully deployed, there are substantial environments in which public Wi-Fi will be eliminated in favor of millimeter wave because of the security, reliability and service capabilities.”

Mentioning cable companies, which currently use a combination of Wi-Fi and MVNO agreements with wireless operators like Verizon, they might be looking to balance traffic, and “… I’m not suggesting that Wi-Fi hotspots will disappear immediately,” but that’s traffic management rather than experience management.

“Our view is the best experience end-to-end is being on a secure six 9s capability wireless environment end-to-end...whether you’re a consumer or a business customer,” Dunne said.

RELATED: Verizon tweaks 5G Home, puts 5G repeaters on road map

Asked about the implication about the number of cells required to achieve that, he said the key is indoor solutions for 5G, and Verizon is already working on repeaters and nodes for indoor environments. That means covering places such as residential areas and industrial facilities with gear like repeaters and extenders much the same way Wi-Fi and mesh is used.

That tracks with what Nicki Palmer, Verizon’s senior vice president of technology and product development, said on the sidelines of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Maui last month. Besides repeaters based on new beamforming technologies, tools like 5G distributed antenna systems (DAS) are expected in 2020. 5G DAS gear isn’t really here yet, but it will be in 2020, she said. DAS typically has been used by carriers in venues like stadiums to improve or augment coverage and capacity.

Dunne said Verizon's focus on mmWave has been pioneering and eventually all of its spectrum will be capable of deploying 5G with the arrival of dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) in 2020.  

This year also will see mmWave devices below $800 and later, $600, and the second half of 2020 will be important for Verizon's 5G Home product because that's when the high-powered CPE arrives.