5G is getting really real. The spec is complete, the phones are coming, and Verizon, the largest mobile provider in the U.S., has announced that in addition to Los Angeles and Sacramento, it will launch 5G residential broadband service in Houston by the end of 2018.
Verizon made the announcement as part of its second-quarter earnings, where it said it amassed 531,000 new subscribers, including 199,000 mobile phone users, and said that growth, profitability, and revenue were all solid and within expectations. Nothing too exciting.
What's interesting here is twofold: unlike AT&T, which is moving heavily into a vertical integration model with its recent acquisition of Time-Warner, and Sprint/T-Mobile, which are in the middle of convincing the U.S. government to allow them to merge, Verizon seems to be focusing on building out network infrastructure. Specifically 5G network infrastructure. While it will launch 5G on internet sticks for laptops, and 5G hubs for homes, by the end of 2018, it is likely using its considerable mmWave stockpile to plan for mobile service by the middle of 2019, with a broader national rollout in 2020.
Verizon hasn't had much success with content, as shown by the $900 million writedown for Go90, its failed over-the-air streaming service that was recently integrated into Oath, the merger of AOL and Yahoo!. As a result, Verizon is said to be looking to partner with a company that already has its own over-the-top TV streaming offering — specifically Google or Apple. Given that Apple has yet to actually launch a live TV product (though it's been rumored for years), the likely candidate would be Google's YouTube TV, which itself has reportedly been struggling to pick up enough subscribers to become profitable.
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