Verizon's upcoming 5G home internet service won't have the kinds of data limits you expect from current wireless services, the company said today.
Verizon has been trying out its new 5G home internet service for months. In a tour of its New Jersey lab, we got a closer look at the 5G antenna setup we saw at Mobile World Congress in February. It's a silver device the size of a paperback book, which connects to a Wi-Fi router with a display. You're supposed to put in a window facing Verizon's 5G service tower.
In the test lab, engineer David Binczewski (below) showed us how the company is still working through the challenges of high-frequency, short-distance, millimeter-wave 5G—most notably, how to penetrate various materials. In a chamber designed to test new 5G devices, he held up a piece of wood between a 5G emitter and a receiver, and we watched the signal fuzz out a bit on a nearby equipment screen.
Once the network is up and running, though, fixed 5G should be able to handle the average data load of a Fios customer, and it won't be throttled down to 4G gigabyte caps.
During a roundtable, VP of network support Mike Haberman, some other Verizon folks, and the assembled journalists agreed that an average data cap in the vicinity of 180GB/month would satisfy the average consumer. That's far more than Verizon's current 4G traffic management limit, where folks who use more than 22GB get sent to the back of the line if a tower is congested.
"That shouldn't be a problem with 5G. What does 4K video use? Think about how many 4K TVs you can put on a service that's a true 1 gigabit to your house," Haberman said.
The key to high capacity is the massive amounts of spectrum Verizon is able to use for 5G, which is also why the company isn't enthusiastic about putting 5G on the low frequencies T-Mobile intends to use. While T-Mobile has been touting the range of its upcoming low-band 5G, Verizon says it wants to use 400-800MHz of spectrum for its home internet service, huge bandwidth that's only available at very high frequencies.
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Along with multiple 4K TV streams, the new 5G service will work for gaming thanks to 5G's very low latency, Haberman said. While you'll still be dealing with internet latency, the 5G network itself will be in the range of 1-5ms, he said.
There's still no real date for when the 5G home service will become available, and Haberman and his team still sounded like they were figuring a lot of things out. Placing base stations is a real challenge with 5G at the 28GHz frequencies Verizon is using; they have to be no more than 500 meters from each customer, and their range is affected by trees and other obstacles.
"You don't need line of sight for every single [home], but it will be more efficient if it's line of sight," Haberman said. "That's why we're trying to figure it out in the trial. We're learning about propagation, ray tracing models, and learning about the customers' homes."