Though 5G is now largely associated with smartphones, Verizon originally launched the next-generation cellular technology as a high-speed broadband solution, promising cable modem-like 300Mbps average and 1Gbps peak data rates using millimeter wave 5G modems. Unfortunately, network buildout and local installation challenges limited Verizon’s footprint, so the company is addressing one of those pain points today with the 5G Internet Gateway.
The new wireless broadband device enables small business owners and individual users to access Verizon’s highest-speed 5G network without help from an installer, a long-awaited step forward for millimeter wave technology. Potential customers previously required scheduled visits from network technicians to set up 5G broadband service, but now can handle installation themselves using an augmented reality self-setup app. It’s as close to a turnkey enabling solution for mmWave “fixed 5G” service as has yet been seen.
Designed to minimize hardware footprint within a small office or home, the 5G Internet Gateway combines the 5G modem and Wi-Fi router in a white plastic box. After loading Verizon’s installation app, users are guided to mount the box indoors on either a wall or window, confirming that a 5G signal is available before using an included adhesive bracket to secure the Gateway in a location. The box can be pivoted on the bracket for optimal mmWave signal strength, then locked into a specific angle for guaranteed coverage.
Verizon and its partners have worked steadily for the past two years to simplify the sometimes challenging process of transforming the 5G network’s high-speed mmWave signals into Wi-Fi that can be used across homes and small businesses. While mmWave has the potential to deliver internet speeds comparable to fiber cabling, its signals can be blocked by walls and some windows, making proper installation critical — and sometimes forcing the 5G receiving hardware to sit in an unobstructed outdoor location, connected to an indoor Wi-Fi router. New mmWave antenna hardware and network tweaks promise to bring the cellular technology to more people over the next year.
The new 5G Internet Gateway promises to work from a longer range than prior Verizon 5G hardware, and will be available to customers in eight U.S. cities, newly including Minneapolis and St. Paul. That’s not a huge footprint — only twice the size of the company’s 2018 initial rollout — but Verizon promises that the 5G Home network will reach “at least 10 cities” in the U.S. by year’s end. It remains to be seen how much of those cities are actually covered by its millimeter wave service, which has been uneven within purported areas of availability.
Verizon is preserving the same $50 price point for existing customers and $70 pricing for new customers originally announced for its 5G Home service, while adding a number of perks: One year of Disney+ service, a free Stream TV device for access to multiple over the top cable channels, and a collection of Amazon devices ranging from an Echo Show 5 and Echo Dot to a Ring Stick Up Cam and Amazon Smart Plug. New users must sign up for the service by October 30, 2020 to qualify for the free year of Disney+ access.