Verizon plans to offer wireless home internet access starting next year — and it could shake up the broadband market
- Verizon will start offering wireless home broadband service in three to five cities in late 2018.
- The company will deliver the service using 5G networking technology, the next-generation wireless standard.
- Home wireless internet service like Verizon's could increase competition, potentially leading to better pricing and performance.
You already go online via the cell phone companies' wireless networks when you're on your phone and away from home. Now Verizon wants you to get your house connected to the internet wirelessly too.
On Wednesday, the telecommunications giant announced it will start offering wireless home internet service in a handful of markets in late 2018. Verizon will offer the service using so-called 5G networking technology, a wireless standard that's still in development but promises both faster speeds and less congestion than current 4G networks can deliver.
RELATED: Salaries of employees at 25 top tech companies
"This is a landmark announcement for customers and investors who have been waiting for the 5G future to become a reality," Hans Vestberg, Verizon's chief technology officer, said in a statement.
Verizon offered few details about the new service
Verizon plans to launch its new service in three to five cities, starting with Sacramento, California. It didn't say in which other cities it would offer the service, how much the service would cost, or how fast users would be able to access the internet, saying only that it would provide more details "at a later date."
The company also didn't discuss exactly how it would deliver the service to customers' homes. However, its concept resembles that of internet startup Starry.
To get broadband access, Starry customers place outside their homes an antenna that communicates via 5G with nearby cellular towers. The antenna delivers those signal to a combination modem and Wi-Fi router inside users' homes.
The company already has some competition in the wireless home broadband market
AT&T and Google's parent company Alphabet have also been testing their own wireless home internet services since 2016. Those also use 5G.
Wireless home internet service has potentially big benefits for consumers. Consumers typically have their choice of just one or two wired broadband providers. By contrast, they usually have far more choices when it comes to wireless providers. So, assuming wireless internet access can offer similar speed and reliability in the home as wired connections, it could bring with it more competition, which could lead to better prices and improved performance.
And adding wireless service to an area is typically less costly and less of a production than digging up streets or getting access to utility poles to string wires. That could allow wireless home internet providers to introduce service faster and more quickly expand it to additional customers.
There are still some challenges ahead for 5G home internet service
However, to be truly comparable with wired service, 5G wireless service will have to overcome several obstacles. Traditionally, wired services have offered faster speeds than wireless ones and frequently cost significantly less.
And the 5G technology itself could have some potential challenges. Cell towers transmitting 5G signals generally have less range than those sending 4G LTE ones. As a result, wireless provides will likely need to install many more 5G cell towers to deliver strong signals.
Meanwhile, the type of signals 5G uses don't do a very good job of penetrating obstacles. Indeed, objects as thin as leaves can weaken 5G signals, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- Gabe Newell's advice in 2013 still rings true: 'Nobody is smarter than the internet'
- If you're addicted to diagnosing your health problems online, you might be suffering from cyberchondria
- Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp is resigning