Is Verizon’s 5G home internet real 5G?

Verizon became the first major ISP to launch the 5G home Internet service yesterday. It's an important step on the road to making 5G a reality, but if ever in your life you interacted with an Internet provider, you're probably a bit skeptical: is this really 5G?

The answer is sort of . Yesterday, in a telephone call, Verizon's chief technology architect, Ed Chan, said that the recently launched 5G home service uses a number of technologies that have been considered part of 5G. The most important among them is the use of millimeter waves, the radio waves that will be the backbone of 5G connections. Millimeter wave connections work in a much shorter distance, but they are much faster, allowing Verizon to offer gigabit speeds wirelessly.

But there are other important factors for 5G, as if all 5G devices work together and speak the same language. And with the Verizon implementation, they do not. Verizon is using a communications standard largely from its own creation, called 5G TF, while the industry in general is joining in something called 5G NR. Even Verizon plans to switch to 5G NR eventually. But it means that this initial deployment of 5G is being done without the widely accepted 5G standard.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere immediately criticized his competitor, putting an asterisk next to his references to Verizon's 5G service. "It does not use global industry standards or cover entire blocks and it will never scale … but hey, it's the first one, right?!" He wrote on Twitter.

Legere is not wrong in that the system is not escalating, since Verizon plans to physically replace all of its 5G TF hardware with 5G NR hardware in the future: it is not exactly the most efficient way to implement the Internet service. Verizon says it will not charge customers for doing this, but it did not provide a timetable for when it will happen. ("Once [NR hardware] meets our stringent specifications for our customers," Verizon said in an email.)

Chan says that Verizon chose to implement 5G in this way because the NR standard was not moving fast enough. "We saw clearly that the technology was already available to take advantage of and implement," he says, so TF was created to allow Verizon and other networks to start testing the 5G-style service.

On Chan's account, this also got the rest of the industry to accelerate the NR standard. body of standards … accelerated by a good year and a half, "he says.

There's some truth in that: the 5G NR standard accelerated, and an analyst, Michael Thelander of Signals Research Group, who was following closely The process indicated that one factor in accelerating the process was the threat of fragmentation of the standards if Verizon made too much progress with its own 5G version.

But ultimately that same analyst criticized the Verizon standard for its departures from 5G NR "It's great to be testing, even if you define your own specification, just to go out and play with things." That's great and wonderful, and congratulations to them, "said Thelander FierceWireless last year . "But when you exaggerate it, you call it 5G and you talk about commercial services … it's not 5G."

Verizon argues that what it released is 5G. "The TF standard provided the basis for what became the NR standard worldwide. This is true, 5G! "Howie Waterman, Verizon's media relations and technology leader, wrote in an email to The Verge . "As for the tweet you shared with John [Legere] for me, that's the kind of response from a competitor who is not the first on the market."

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