Samsung and Verizon agreed to a new partnership that will see them commercialize 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) points in the United States later this year, the two companies announced Wednesday. The collaboration is meant to produce results in the second half of the year when Verizon‘s first consumer-facing 5G service will be introduced in Sacramento, California.
The South Korean original equipment manufacturer was awarded a supply contract from Verizon and will be procuring the vast majority of the equipment necessary for the deployment of the telecom giant’s 5G FWA networks. The development is just the latest step in Samsung and Verizon’s 5G partnership that already saw them conduct extensive trials throughout the country in recent times. While not all mobile service provider in the U.S. placed a large focus on 5G FWA, Verizon may be doing so in order to recoup some of the costs of its massive networking investments made in previous years. Still, many industry watchers agree that making a complete return on such financial commitments won’t be possible until the wireless industry is able to commercialize truly wireless 5G several years from now.
5G FWA is generally seen as the first step toward the fifth generation of mobile networks that’s now close to being fully standardized and will result in large-scale deployment in the United States starting 2019. With first truly 5G-enabled smartphones also being expected to land early next year, consumers will soon be able to experience unprecedented mobile service speeds at extremely low latencies, as repeatedly promised by the wireless industry. Fixed wireless tech by itself will rely on new home routers and only be usable as an evolution of one’s home Internet, so it remains to be seen how many consumers will be quick to pay extra for it. T-Mobile has often criticized 5G FWA in the past, stating that the technology isn’t a “true” 5G solution and citing that as the main reason why it’s committing its infrastructural resources to nationwide 5G networks, though Verizon is also working on commercializing such solutions. Most or possibly all major wireless carrier in the country should start offering 5G wireless networks on a national level in 2020.