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5G network Verizon prices wireless broadband at $50 a month

September 18, 2018

With a new wireless broadband service it has yet to make available in Connecticut, Verizon Communications becomes the first major carrier to offer homeowners an alternative to the cable providers that have long held pricing power when it comes to high-speed internet access.

For its new “5G” service, Verizon is skipping cell phone towers in favor of “small cell” transmitters installed on buildings and utility poles throughout urban areas, sending and receiving signals using Verizon’s millimeter wave spectrum technology. Similar infrastructure has already proliferated widely in Connecticut and elsewhere to support existing 4G wireless networks.

Verizon is promising wireless speeds as fast as a gigabit per second, competitive with that offered by cable broadband providers like Altice, Charter Communications, Comcast and Cox. Service is launching initially in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, Calif., with others to follow.

Speaking last week in New York City, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg indicated 5G has dominated his agenda since taking the reins of the company from former CEO Lowell McAdam last year. Vestberg previously led Ericsson, a major manufacturer of wireless transmitters.

“I came in some 18 months ago and I had one mission in life — or one mission there at least — and that was 5G,” Vestberg said, at an investment conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs. “When I worked at (Ericsson), I was envisioning 5G (in) maybe 2020. Here we are — right now.”

Existing Verizon customers can sign up for 5G for $50 a month, with new customers paying $70. As a promotion, Verizon is offering the first three months of service for free, along with other perks including a free Chromecast or Apple device to stream content to TVs. Verizon has created a website at www.verizonwireless.com/5g/home for people to check for availability of 5G in their areas and sign up when it comes online.

All four cities where Verizon is launching service are in the territories covered by Stamford-based Charter via its Spectrum broadband service. Spectrum Internet is priced at $30 a month as part of a larger cable TV bundle.

In July, Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge said that Verizon faces an expensive national build-out to achieve universal coverage for its new wireless broadband service.

“Small cells require, essentially, a fiber-optic cable system to supply them, so there’s a lot of capital intensity with that kind of build,” Rutledge said. “You could do the math of what kind of penetrations you might achieve with a ‘me-too’ product delivered wirelessly over a 10-year period.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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