Despite all the hype, end users’ first 5G experience will be remarkably similar to a bog standard broadband service
After years of hype about the life-changing possibilities promised by the next generation of mobile technology, it seems that end users’ first taste of 5G will be a mobile service that isn’t even mobile.
That’s because Verizon late on Wednesday unveiled plans to launch a pre-standard 5G fixed wireless service in select residential locations in 2018.
"This is a landmark announcement for customers and investors who have been waiting for the 5G future to become a reality," declared Verizon’s chief technology officer and president of global networks, Hans Vestberg, in a statement.
The first location to go live will be Sacramento, California in the second half of next year. Verizon said the addressable market for its 5G fixed wireless service is 30 million households nationwide.
The U.S. telco said the service will offer blisteringly fast Internet speeds, and paves the way for exciting new experiences, such as virtual reality and IoT services.
While a phased introduction of a new generation of mobile network technology is to be expected, Verizon’s announcement nevertheless comes across as something of an anti-climax.
5G has been pitched ad nauseam as a revolutionary step in mobile technology that reshapes our understanding of what a network is capable of and how it operates. If the hype is to be believed, 5G is supposed to create the perception of infinite capacity, regardless of whether the customer is at home or at large.
Indeed, no 5G PowerPoint presentation is complete without a nod to driverless cars, augmented reality and remote surgery.
Against this backdrop, getting excited about what is essentially a run-of-the-mill fixed wireless service comes with a risk: the risk of creating the perception among end users that the telecoms industry has over-promised and under-delivered on 5G.