Apple just unveiled the iPhone 12 with five g its marquee feature.
Roger Chang with CNET.
Here’s my colleague, Eli Blumenthal.
I’m here to talk with a special guest Verizon Wireless co wrote and done.
You’ve been working on 5g for a while now it’s the industry has been working on it for a while.
It’s been live for almost two years at this point.
But how big of a deal is it that.
Apple is finally getting into the 5g game.>> Great technologies when they arrive need to be deployed within an ecosystem.
And we started like three plus years ago and we have the technology forum where we brought best in class partners together and said, Look, we think this 5g is going to be huge.
We want to accelerate The development of the standards, the development of the of the equipment, so we kind of put our money where our mouth was early on.
And since then we’ve been in the Vanguard.
And really the announcements are a combination of that two to three.
Three year cycle where we’ve worked with chipset manufacturers.
We’ve worked with network equipment vendors and we’ve worked with all of the premium device manufacturers in the world and we brought together a very clear understanding of the potential of both 5g and particularly 5g millimeter wave.
And that has resulted in this year alone.
Now after the announcements from Apple 25 5g devices coming to the US, all of which are supporting millimeter wave and we’ll be reflecting I believe an accelerated adoption curve that can only get faster now that Apple and iOS have joined the party.
Now you spent a year and a half touting the insane speeds that you get with that million Millimeter wave 5G speeds but realistically for a lot of folks buying an iPhone 12 they’re likely will be accessing the low band 5G, the nationwide 5G network you announced.
I’m just curious how you are either educating or bracing consumers on what could be a disappointing first impression of 5G because it’s not quite those millimeter wave speeds.
Low band is at this point, you know, an incremental upgrade over Are faster 4G networks.
So I’d break it into two parts, the devices that are coming to market today and the recent past from other device manufacturers have chipsets in them which are optimized to use the existing technologies and 4G and 5G.
Even better to deliver better experiences, better battery life, better capabilities on the devices, but it’s not about speed.
Speed in our business is a proxy for capacity and capability.
And so think about it is is it that somebody needs four gigs or is it that 1000 people in a stadium or.
Are all streaming 4k at exactly the same time?
That’s the question that you have to answer.
And so the opportunity for customers to enjoy both fabulous ultra wideband experiences but also because of our commitment to ultra wideband in those densely populated areas within the high traffic areas.
Actually the offload to the.
Ultra wideband network is also freeing up the very best of the best in class 4g LTE network we have and now 5g nationwide covering over 200 million of the US population.
So it is a win win.
It gets better for everybody.
Okay, so talking about that, win win and getting people onto 5g With the new iPhones, that’s obviously a big opportunity for getting people to switch and get on to the new networks.
With your approach with DSS, is there an added incentive for you guys to get people to upgrade so that you can start reallocating some spectrum from 4g LTE to 5g?
When in fact it’s almost the the country while we’re absolutely excited about telling the 5g story to our customers the use of DSS means that we don’t have to artificially partition between one part of our spectral bands and another to create individual lanes for individual technologies we allow seamless access Across the network, and occasioned by the management of that network in a way that says if there’s more need for 4G than we have it if there’s more need for 5g, then we have, that’s a distinct alternative to somebody saying I have a dedicated line for 5g and if it’s empty, it stays there unused.
So we think it’s highly efficient in the way we use it, and therefore we think it gives the The best experienced about.
Yes also did spend about $1.9 billion, acquiring some 3.5 gigahertz mid band spectrum.
So two questions there one ,will these new iPhones that you know a lot of excitement about support that spectrum.
And the second is when can we expect to see Verizon deploy 5g using this 3.5 mid band?
Yes, you can assume that all of the best in class devices that are out there support that the spectrum bands that we have in deployment today and the ones that we have I have acquire, so it’s absolutely consistent our ecosystem play is very clear.
And we work with chipset manufacturers and equipment vendors on the network side, and obviously device manufacturers to make sure that we’re bringing all of the assets that we have to bear in a way that enhances the experience for customers.
Yeah, I want to talk about the the price of 5g.
Obviously the phone prices are coming down.
They aren’t quite as extreme as they were a year ago.
But they’re still around the 600 to $700 range.
I’m just curious how much longer before we get phone 5g devices that are sort of mid tier, or budget budget range to the point where more Americans can enjoy 5g.
Actually, that’s the great news about the adoption cycle of 5G relative to 4G.
We already have more than 25 5G millimeter wave capable devices available to horizons customers.
And we started the year at the thousand dollar price point we broke 800 then we broke 600 now we’ve broken 500.
And I suspect before the year is out, we’ll break below 4 hundred
Switching back a little bit to network.
Obviously you guys are covering 2 hundred million people today it’s a lot of major cities.
When can we expect the rest of the Verizon 4g LTE network to start deploying DSS and allowing for 5G.
So look, we will continue to roll out, 5g.
And so our intentions is to bring our 5g to every corner of our network and do that over time.
We spent a lot of the year this year preparing our network for the upgrades.
To 5G, and to covering 200 million of the US population is a significant milestone.
But there’s plenty more to go, and we will continue to full focus on that.
But we’ve also innovated around our 4G LTE network.
We opened, and we announced the other day that in About 180 odd counties that we expanded our 4g home offering, having had an initial launch of that a month or two earlier.
So what I would say to any customer is,the best network just keeps getting better and we are committed to expanding out, availability and access and the product set that’s there, whether it be 4G, which let’s not forget is best in class already in the US, as well as the further enhancements of the 5G network and the capability there.
I’m confused about that.
In terms of the range of the broadness of availability of the service, I’ve been reading a lot about, you know, the digital divide and how 5g is poised to be a potential solution to closing the broadband gap.
I’d love to get your thoughts on that particularly you know, 5g, not just 5g but also 4g LTE, which I know you guys have a lot of work in, in rural communities.
What What role do these play in Closing the Gap as 2020 as shown is really pressing problem.
So we start from a good place because Verizon serves more rural communities in America than any other carriers, you know.
But what’s important is that we need to be able to deliver a quality and experience in the residential situation akin to what a mobility offering might be.
So the criteria that we’ve set.
For the 4G LTE is it has to be an unlimited proposition and it has to have minimum 25 meg throughput target up to 50 meg speeds so that it does what it says on the tin and the reality of that is then determined by The depth of our of our coverage, the availability of fiber, etc, etc.
So we continue to reinforce the perimeter of the 4g LTE network and build it out.
And while at this stage we can talk about the detail of it but the latest plans for additional funding for.
For Rural Development, we have signaled and we have registered our interest in participating in that program.
I want to talk a little bit about going back to the millimeter wave network.
From a seller perspective.
The knock has always been super fast, but the range is pretty limited.
You’ve sort of got hotspots of coverage is that.
At what point does that change where you get broader coverage of millimeter wave that it’s more than just finding the right intersection finding the right spot, and it comes a bit more broader.
So that’s already happening.
So I’ll take Chicago, one of the first cities that we launched in and actually I was there personally when we switched on The millimeter wave network.
The coverage in in Chicago is more than double what it was when we launched and actually I think we’ve got 4 x the number of cells down there now.
So we’ve also announced with partners like Corning and others The availability of indoor 5g cells we’ve also partnered with others where there’s repeaters which means that we can use our backhaul, we can actually use our own spectrum to link between individual Small cells so that you don’t necessarily need fiber and every single one, so that innovation around the equipment ecosystem is broadening out the deployment opportunities for us.
So, you will see a broadening and deepening of those networks in all the major cities.
Realistically, millimeter wave is not a solution for rural America because Of the fact of needing either repeaters or multiple small cells.
And that’s where what’s important is our deployments using 5g and 5g stand alone the ability to use that to improve the quality of experience and the use cases that are available in semi rural and rural areas, as well as increasing our footprint and building further Obviously this is an opportunity for you know, you and every other carrier to mad customers from each other.
This is a big switching event as folks look to upgrade.
I’m just curious what kinds of deals or what kind of incentives are you looking to offer to to lure people either away from other carriers or keep your existing customers with Verizon.
The truth is that everybody has their reasons as to why they acquire a device and why they choose to carrier.
And to suggest that in the period of 18 minutes or something like that in that in a keynote, that all of that changes I think is disingenuous to customers.
We’ve been building out for years bulletproof network availability and capability we’ve been building on our experience.
We’ve been improving our MPs quarter over quarter, we’ve been driving more value into the hands of customers and we’ve been bringing partners.
To bring even more value to, to customers.
So I think the conversation with our customers is that unlike what we’re doing today, and they will be thrilled at the fact that we’re leading in this next generation of capabilities, so for me, it’s as much about the conversation with our existing customers, of course be welcoming customers from a Other networks to join us now that they see the compelling case for millimeter wave and see our availability of 5G nationwide.
But I’m not sure I subscribe to this.
It’s all going to happen.
Overnight situation because customers come for the network and then they stay for the experience.
And that’s something that we’ve been demonstrating quarter in, quarter out and that’s why you You know when we last reported our our turn started with a dot five handle which is world class Apple made the point about, you know being on 5G being more secure because you’re you’re less likely to be on Wi Fi.
I know there’s also some privacy questions about 5G and just how Because it’s able to track you so precisely.
I’m just curious what your thoughts are for the privacy applications of the upgrade to 5G, some of the benefits and potentially some of the risk that come with this next generation technology.
Well the first thing I’d want to assure anyone who’s watching or listening is wireless networks are the most secure communications you will ever do.
I completely agree with the point that them Public Wi Fi represents a risk.
And therefore the ability to substitute public Wi Fi for 5g millimeter wave with the sort of capacity and ubiquitous coverage in urban areas, I think is certainly an opportunity.
So Look, wireless is a great secure technology.
And to add in five G makes it even, even better.
So as regards, privacy concerns, I have no concerns whatsoever.
We’re very, very conscious of our CPNI responsibilities and obligations.
We don’t sell.
Our customers data to third parties, and we’re very much a case of we’re there to curate the best digital experiences on behalf of our customers, and we owe our responsibility to them.
It’s their data at the end of the day.
Thanks for your time, Ronan.
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