Verizon CTO declares 5G rollout is ahead of schedule

The company is not letting a pandemic stand in its way.

Verizon executive vice president and chief technology officer Kyle Malady has confirmed despite having to briefly shift its focus to assist customers and its own internal business to deal with the new way of working arising out of the coronavirus pandemic, plans for its 5G rollout across the United States is ahead of schedule.

"I'm happy to report we're ahead of plans right now in 5G in the United States," he told ZDNet.

"We have an aggressive goal. We weren't exactly sure how COVID was going to impact us, especially in terms of getting permits and the ability to put up towers and get our fibres in, but once again, a roadblock shows up, we figure out ways to work it, so we can continue to move along.

"Initially I was very nervous about it, but we are still on plan with all of our strategic initiatives so far."

The company's recent acquisition of BlueJeans as part of its push into the unified communications market is an example of this. Malady highlighted the acquisition was part of the company's strategy prior to the pandemic.

"We were thinking about BlueJeans acquisition before this all occurred because it fits into our strategy. As we move into 5G and the great benefits that 5G brings, video is going to be very important when you bring those capabilities out. It also fits into our portfolio of products that sell and make available to our enterprises, so it's a natural fit anyway," he said.

"The other good news is that we picked up the asset and we're going to integrate it, and we think we'll get quicker adoption now just by the fact that people are getting much use to video chats."

Malady believes the pandemic just reinforced the company's efforts to date, particularly as it has driven the need for remote working.

"We keep moving the technology forward with our 5G network and our intelligent edge network, and all the modernisation we're doing to make the connectivity even better," he said.

"What I do find is there are new ways of working. I find [video chats] are a lot more accepted. People are a lot more comfortable using it. We're using it a bunch more. I think that will open up people working from home more, rethinking how we use office space, rethinking how we travel."

Malady added ultimately it would be up to enterprises to figure out how they adopt new technologies, such as 5G.  

"The way I think about this is we're building a platform that allows all matters of new technology to really shine. I've been around for all the Gs and I've never been more excited," Malady said.

"What we're doing is building this platform ... and as application developers and hardware manufacturers learn what this can do and they develop solutions on top of the platform that's really what I'm excited to see.

"I've been around the transition from 3G to 4G, and I knew it was going to be pretty big and it ended up in the app economy. The capability on this platform will far outshine what we were doing with 4G."

According to Rob le Busque, Verizon enterprise solutions APAC regional vice president, some countries within the APAC region, at the very least, are still one to two years away from large scale 5G deployment.

"The conversation we're having is the decision you make today around technology investment, you need to be making for a 5G future, meaning prior to this, if you made a decision around a particular type of technology around the software platform or hardware refresh, you might make that in isolation," he said.

"Now, that decision needs to be formed by what 5G potentially could bring to that application or network design, or whatever that aspect of technology design might be."

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