• Verizon Announces Aggressive, Video-Focused Offer for 5G Launch

    Verizon has announced an aggressive, video-focused offer for its initial 5G launch, underscoring how potentially disruptive wireless telcos could be for both broadband and pay-TV services.

    Starting tomorrow morning, residents of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento will be able to visit “First on 5G” to determine whether Verizon 5G Home service is available in their area. If it is, then the service will become available beginning October 1st (though it’s not clear how quick activation would be). The introductory package is extremely compelling and includes:

    - 3 months of free Verizon 5G Home service ($50/mo after with qualifying wireless plan, $70/mo if not)

    - Free installation

    - No equipment charges

    - Typical network speed around 300 mbps, with peak of almost 1 gbps

    - No monthly data cap

    - 3 months free of YouTube TV ($40/mo afterwards)

    - A free Apple TV or Chromecast Ultra

    To put a fine point on just how video-focused Verizon is positioning the new 5G service, in the press release, Tami Erwin, the company’s wireless operations leader, said, “You want an opportunity to cut the cord with your cable company? Now you can cut the cord and go cable free, while getting fast, reliable home internet service over the hottest new technology.”

    That’s a pretty clear shot across the bow of cable TV operators who dominate the broadband ISP business in the U.S. and still have a majority share of all multichannel pay-TV subscribers. This is why, as I wrote a month ago, if 5G performs as expected, and wireless telcos aggressively price/promote it, the disruptive impact on both the landline broadband and multichannel pay-TV industries could be very significant.

    Of course, 5G does indeed have to work as advertised. Cable broadband subscribers are conditioned to having pretty reliable service, often exceeding 100 mbps (except for users with a lot of concurrent live HD streaming, the jump from 100 mbps to 300 mbps won’t likely matter to most users). So they won’t tolerate a step back in quality or reliability.

    It’s also worth noting that 5G is a long-term play for telcos. It will take years to roll it out nationwide and especially service rural America. But just as Verizon is doing (and AT&T has announced), urban areas will get first priority and blanketing them entirely could occur quite rapidly in 2019.

    Add it all up and 5G, which has been long awaited and heavily hyped, finally appears poised to start having an impact.