Only weeks after setting its rollout of 5G wireless services for the “second half” of 2018, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam became a little more specific about both timing and locations. In a televised interview with CNBC. McAdam said today that Verizon is “locking in” four initial cities, now including Los Angeles, for a fixed 5G launch “by fourth quarter” 2018. Verizon will then launch mobile 5G services in the first quarter of 2019.
Until now, the carrier had left both the exact number and names of its initial 5G launch cities ambiguous. Back in January, the carrier committed to a 2018 launch in three to five markets, announcing that Sacramento, California would be among the first cities to receive 5G hardware. The addition of Los Angeles is significant both because of the city’s large population and wide geographic area, suggesting that Verizon’s rollout there will be more than a modest testbed for 5G services.
McAdam may have hinted at an early 5G deployment in Boston, as well. During his interview with CNBC’s David Faber, McAdam also said that “we’ve had some great partnerships with some forward-looking mayors — Marty Walsh in Boston’s a good example, Mayor Garcetti in L.A. — so we want to be able to really show the scale of 5G and the impact that it will have on people across all the applications, some of which you just mentioned.”
Pressed on what the rollout will look like, McAdam said that Verizon will “literally have over 1,000 cell sites up and operating on the global standard. We’ve got [hardware ready] for a fixed wireless application, so the intelligent home … home appliances, and broadband, Alexa, Siri, things like that. And then we’ll very quickly in first quarter , as the mobile devices become available, move into the mobile environment.”
The company’s exact release date for 5G remains fuzzy, but increasingly looks to be happening in the fall. Verizon originally committed to a rollout at some point in 2018, but began to focus on the latter half of the year as May approached. Shortly after Verizon’s hardware partner Samsung received FCC approval for the first home 5G modem, requesting confidentiality through October 27, McAdam said that Verizon’s 5G launch would happen “by the end of ’18.” Today’s “by fourth quarter” phrasing could indicate a date just ahead of the final three months of the year, or within them.
Verizon’s commitment to Los Angeles comes nearly simultaneously with smaller rival Sprint’s announcement today that it will launch 5G services in the largest U.S. city, New York City, as well as Phoenix, Arizona and its home base of Kansas City — all in 2019. We’ve reached out to Verizon for additional details on its initial 5G launch cities and will update this article if we hear back.