Verizon plans to simplify its 5G Home fixed wireless service installation process to allow end users to install a standards-based router and antenna without assistance, based on statements made by the company's senior vice president of technology, strategy, and planning Adam Koeppe.
The statements were reportedly made during an investor conference by Mr. Koeppe and the changes are tied back to lessons the company learned during its now-defunct initial rollout of the home-based Wi-Fi replacement service. Specifically, the company says that the "white glove" installation service allowed company technicians to narrow own factors that lead to the professional installation of its external or internal antennas. They also learned which homes are more likely to need which antenna, to begin with.
Routers are already effectively self-installable products but coupled with new advances in the antennas themselves, the majority of customers shouldn't need on-site assistance for installing those either. Homes that still require the additional help will still receive it but that won't be automatically triggered anymore.
What's the hold-up?
Verizon's initial rollout of home-based 5G service was, in the previously reported words of analysts, completely impractical to scale and would have taken years to get moving. In one area, it took the carrier approximately six months to provide service to around six percent of homes, averaging out to around a percent per month.
That's not great, even taken on its own, but that service was specifically rolling out in the relatively densely populated city of Sacramento. So it probably should have been happening faster.
When Verizon started slowing and then halting the rollout around January, it attributed the hiccup in its plans to a lack of standards-based equipment viable for customers. In particular, equipment adhering to 5G New Radio (5G NR) standard was basically missing.
More speculatively, that likely contributed to its need to have 5G home services installed by professionals as noted above. Additionally, the installation process and equipment being used could feasibly have been stacking on top of the underlying cost of those installations for Verizon.
At the same time, limitations in how much of its 28GHz spectrum was in use stacked on top of the issue, making specialist installations necessary to determine which equipment to use. Verizon was using around 400MHz of its total 28GHz spectrum but will now be accessing and utilizing double that.
The new equipment used in the relaunch of Verizon 5G Home will adhere to 5G NR standards too.
This should at least be fast when it lands
With Verizon’s previous in-home service, the networking speeds it had managed to achieve based on independent testing were as advertised -- fast. The provider had claimed that customers could expect between 300Mbps to 1Gbps. The average user was seeing between 600Mbps and 800Mbps on the download side and as quick as 250Mbps on the upload end.
Although 5G NR standards aren’t exactly like the proprietary equipment used in the initial rollout to Indianapolis, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Houston, they should theoretically provide comparable speeds or better. Those regions will be moved to the new standards when rollouts pick up again in the second half of 2019 and new regions will start things off with the new standard.
The new rollout itself could feasibly be faster too, since most consumers will be able to install the requisite equipment themselves, freeing up technicians to focus on the 5G framework and backbone.