Editors’ Note: Verizon clarified to say that it will launch in some, not all, of the cities where it has 5G service.
A change is coming to your home internet, and it relies on a big box I saw at Qualcomm’s San Diego headquarters this week.
Verizon confirmed to PCMag that its 5G Home service, which promises a new competitor in home internet, will arrive by the end of the year in the 10-ish cities where the company offers 5G service. (Verizon has promised 30 cities by the end of the year, but it’s launched fewer than half of that so far.)
While the company hasn’t said anything about the new offering’s speeds and pricing, earlier this year Verizon did a trial of wireless home internet in four cities with speeds of 300Mbps or greater for $70, or $50 for Verizon Wireless subscribers.
There’s one big thing standing in the way of Verizon’s internet plans: range. Consumer smartphones so far have shown only about 600 feet of range from Verizon’s millimeter-wave cell sites, which makes it hard to cover much area.
Enter this big box. Qualcomm’s outdoor consumer premise equipment (CPE) is based on its brand-new QTM527 antenna module. With this item stuck to an exterior wall or the roof of your house, homes should be able to get Verizon’s internet service more than half a mile away from base stations in urban areas, and more than a mile away in rural areas.
Verizon has not confirmed that it will be using Qualcomm’s equipment, but Verizon exec Ronan Dunne told Light Reading that the company will offer a CPE with a higher-power millimeter-wave chip next year, and right now Qualcomm has the only solution that fits the description. It’s a safe bet that this is it.
This is a game changer. In residential areas, Verizon can’t put base stations on every block the way they’re trying to do in downtown Chicago, but with a QTM527-based CPE, they’ll be able to compete.
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If you don’t live in a standalone home, don’t worry. Qualcomm told me there will be QTM527-based, apartment-friendly boxes that can sit on windowsills as well.
While a rooftop box can probably be aimed directly at Verizon’s cell site for the best direct connection, indoor boxes will rely heavily on non-line-of-sight connections. But Qualcomm also showed me today that it has got that working, at least at its headquarters in San Diego. I’ll retest Verizon’s live network soon to see how well it works around corners in the real world.
The QTM527-based box won’t be available until next year, so to make its 2019 promise, Verizon will launch with shorter-range equipment and, probably, upgrade when this box is available.
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