It appears that Verizon has realized one of the big downsides to proclaiming "first" when it comes to its 5G wireless rollout. Verizon claimed to have the first 5G network available in the United States when it launched Verizon 5G Home back in early October, but it was using non-standardized 5G hardware.
Verizon took this shortcut in order to get the jump on its rivals, but by bypassing a standards-based approach, it meant that future smartphones and other 5G devices wouldn't be able to work on this initial Verizon 5G TF network. But now, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg is saying that the company will pause its 5G rollout as it waits for standards-based 5G hardware.
What does that mean for customers? Well, the initial 5G TF installations will remain in place in the four original Verizon 5G Home launch markets: Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. Vestberg said that 5G is “fully deployed in the four cities we have decided” on the company's most recent earnings call.
As for expansions to other big markets in the United States, Vestberg says, “We expect this year we’ll see CPE hardware for the standard in the second half of 2019." At that time, existing Verizon 5G Home customers will likely need to have their existing modems replaced (at Verizon's cost) if they can't be updated via firmware.
“We’re going to go fast as soon as we have all the pieces [in place] for 5G Home and 5G mobility …. We need to see that the ecosystem is … equally [as] ready as Verizon is now.”
At this point, there is no indication of exactly when and where Verizon's mobile 5G network will be operational, although the company did indicate that it will be deploying Samsung 5G smartphones this sometime during the first half of 2019.
We have a different vision! @TMobile will have 5G across the country – and the New T-Mobile will build a 5G network that’s both broad & deep - NATIONWIDE. Ask Verizon if their proprietary non-standards 5G* will eventually work on any phones in the market.... (SPOILER: they won’t)
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) October 1, 2018
Verizon's decision to stall its 5G rollout probably elicited an eruption of laughter from the execs over at T-Mobile. T-Mobile's top brass blasted Verizon's decision to go with non-standard 5G hardware to simply have bragging rights.
"Yes, maybe it’s not standards-based and will never work on smartphones and other devices… and yes, maybe it will only work for a few homes on a few streets in a few markets where there aren’t too many tall buildings or shrubs and trees," said a T-Mobile representative back in October. "But hey, it’s still a 5G launch, right?!"