Verizon Plans to Bring Wireless 5G Broadband to Sacramento

  • Fifth-generation wireless service slated to start in late 2018
  • Providers see 5G being used in driverless cars, robot surgery
How 5G Mobile Networks Will Transform Our World

Verizon Communications Inc. plans to introduce a wireless competitor to home broadband internet services starting next year, betting it can persuade consumers to give up their cable and phone modems.

California’s capital, Sacramento, will be the first of as many as five cities where Verizon will begin selling a faster fifth-generation broadband service late next year that will challenge AT&T Inc. and rival cable providers.

The challenges to 5G technology are daunting. Signal strength and service quality have dogged prior wireless broadband efforts, technical standards for fifth-generation equipment are a year or more away and new networks will cost the carriers billions. U.S. wireless carriers see 5G as a path to new sources of revenue from technology like connected driverless cars and remote robotic surgery.

Verizon has been running trials in 11 cities this year using the super-fast network to beam signals to window-mounted home antennas. The service did well enough in adverse conditions like rain and fog to take the next step, said Ed Chan, a senior vice president in charge of tech strategy for the company.

The cost of building the 5G network in Sacramento will be less than digging trenches to bury fiber-optic cable, but Verizon didn’t disclose how much it is spending. Its broadband competition in the city also includes Comcast Corp., Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc. and Frontier Communications Corp.

Verizon chose Sacramento because its municipal leaders are looking for ways to better manage services like traffic lights and security monitors. “We like to work with cities that are more progressive,” Chan said.

Progressive, in this case, is being open to letting Verizon install network equipment on street lights and other public property, a process that in most cities that can require a lot of community input and permit approvals.

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