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MWCA: Verizon 5G Home coming to more cities

Verizon's chief network engineering officer has told ZDNet that the carrier will be launching its 5G home service in many more locations, with a mobile service to follow quickly.

Verizon's 5G Home service will be launching in many more cities, Verizon chief network engineering officer and head of wireless networks Nicki Palmer has told ZDNet, with the carrier showing off its "ultra wideband" network.

Speaking with ZDNet during Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Palmer said a 5G mobile service will "follow quickly".

"We said we'd be first and we were first," she said, adding that Verizon's millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum holdings in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands means its network "can deliver the real promise of 5G".

"We've got a lot of spectrum in a lot of places."

According to Palmer, the 5G Home launch in October will enable Verizon to leverage its existing "loyal" mobile customer base -- which she said has the lowest churn in the industry -- and provide them with an alternative to the one or two cable companies they have to choose from for their home broadband connections.

The service will provide typical network speeds of 300Mbps and peak speeds of 1Gbps, with no data cap and no annual contract required, making it a viable option over cable.

Verizon 5G Home also comes with free installation and set-up of all Wi-Fi devices; a free router and router software upgrades during 2019; first access to 5G mobile devices as they become available; and a "dedicated 5G expert" to support the service.

Palmer said Verizon chose Sacramento, Los Angeles, Houston, and Indianapolis for its initial 5G launch because those cities were open to embracing new technologies.

"There's a lot of criteria, I would say -- a combination of a city that was interested, because it takes some commitment, you have to have a tech-forward city administration that is willing to work with us on fibre deployment, putting nodes up in the cities, permitting, being innovative," she explained to ZDNet.

"It's the grind of building; we're in the construction business ... so how do you innovate in that space by bulk permitting, for example. Instead of saying 'hey here's a street I'm going to go down, I need 10 nodes, let me give you 10 sets of drawings', I could say 'here's my plan for the city, let's talk about this'."

Verizon can also work with cities on their own technology agendas and any problems they're trying to solve, offering solutions that could combine intelligent lighting solutions with small cells so equipment is less visible, for instance.

"Not everybody's ready for that, but some are," she said. "There will be more; we don't intend to stop at these four cities."

Speaking on Verizon's 5G call this week with Ericsson and Qualcomm, Palmer said it was a "big deal"; while the carrier's 5G Labs will enable academics, innovators, and VCs to come up with more concrete commercial use cases for the new mobile network.

"We have our 5G network there, so it's live ... innovators that have a great idea and they want to be able to use the network, this is the place where they can try it out," she explained to ZDNet.

"We also have good partnerships with Columbia and New York University, so they're there too ... so now you're able to test and try things, and that's the way this is going to go. We're not going to be able to predict all of the use cases."

Verizon's New York City 5G Lab will be focusing on media and finance tech; the Los Angeles lab on augmented reality (AR) and holograms; the Washington DC lab on public safety, first responders, cybersecurity, and hospitality tech; the Palo Alto lab on emerging technologies, education, and big data; and its Waltham, Massachusetts, lab on robotics, healthcare, and real-time enterprise services.

The labs will launch by the end of 2018, and will be kitted out with live 5G networks to help startups, universities, and tech companies to collaborate with Verizon.

The possible applications need to be worked through now via such collaborations, she said; however, Palmer argued that this will also require more women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

"There are so many jobs that are going to need to be filled; if we don't take advantage of half of the population that are women -- these jobs are exciting, they're fun, and they're lucrative, and women need to be a part of it," she argued.

"We're not going to design the right solutions if we don't have the female brain being a piece of it. It's a good time as we're developing new technology and thinking about the next generation and how we really change the game."

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