Verizon's Shammo: We'll use 5G fixed wireless to compete with cable

Verizon will begin commercially testing 5G services next year, CFO Fran Shammo reiterated yesterday. And the nation’s largest carrier hopes to use 5G fixed wireless offerings to compete with traditional fixed-line service providers.

But the emergence of 5G will also help those wireline companies move into wireless.

“The world is going to be wireless. So if you believe the world is becoming wireless, which I think most believe, then this pie is going to grow,” Shammo said Thursday during a Goldman Sachs investor conference. “I mean, 5G fixed wireless would be a competitor to cable, or any broadband connection for that matter. But look, I think it’s way too premature to get into the marketing capability of 5G. If you look at 5G, we’re at the beginning stages. We’re much further ahead than some others – and I know others talk about 2019 and 2020, and we can have a discussion why they’re saying that – it’s because they don’t have any spectrum we do.”

Indeed, Shammo pointed to the spectrum Verizon gains access to as part of its acquisition of XO Communications’ fiber-optic network business for $1.8 billion that was announced earlier this year. That deal enables Verizon to lease XO’s 102 LMDS licenses in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands, with an option to buy those airwaves before the end of 2018.

The FCC has approved those airwaves for fixed wireless use, and Verizon hopes to eventually get the green light to use them for mobile. That spectrum will enable Verizon to move into 5G before its competitors can, Shammo suggested.

“While everybody else is talking that (5G) is a 2019 or 2020 event, that’s great, because I’m going to speed into the 5G world in ’17,” he said. “They’re still dealing in the LTE world. I’m dealing in the IoT world, the smart cities world, telematics. So I’m moving ahead and they’re still talking about how great their network is in LTE.”

Shammo’s comments came just two days after T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray criticized Verizon for continuously overstating how soon 5G offerings will come online. “They say they’ve got that today and I think that’s BS,” Ray said during a keynote address at the Competitive Carriers Association’s annual meeting in Seattle this week. “Maybe when they launch MIMO and QAM, they’ll call that 6G or 7G…. I mean the Verizon guys, they’ve got to stop this BS. It’s confusing for customers.”

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