That FiOS Expansion In Boston May Be Wireless, Not Fiber

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Hey, remember earlier this year when Verizon said that it was thinking about expanding FiOS into Boston, a city that longs for fiber internet access? The problem with that plan is that it won’t necessarily mean fiber lines leading to every home. Instead, Verizon’s high-speed deployment in Boston is mostly going to be wireless, probably 5G under the FiOS brand.

MORE: What The Heck Is 5G Anyway, And Why Does It Matter?

Verizon wouldn’t be alone in that: its competitors, including Google and AT&T, are looking for ways to deploy wide-scale fiber internet without running wires to individual customers’ homes.

According to telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick, Verizon CFO Francis Shammo explained at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference that if wireless broadband works, it would save Verizon a lot of money, since connecting individual households theoretically becomes a lot simpler.

“Now I can deliver a beam into a window with a credit card-size receptor on it that delivers it to a wireless router, and there’s really no labor involved and there’s no real hardware other than the router,” Shammo said.

One hidden benefit, from the corporate overlords’ point of view? The Verizon Wireless workforce is less unionized than the regular Verizon workforce. That’s something that you may condemn or applaud, depending on your opinion about unions, but there’s a major problem if wireless 5G is Verizon’s long-term plan to upgrade Boston: we don’t know whether wide deployment of wireless broadband is actually going to work.

Kushnick describes the technology as “vaporware,” since Verizon still has to put fiber in the ground to reach individual neighborhoods. The technology being tested now has a range of about 500 feet. Maybe the range will improve and we’ll learn that the product works in the next few years, but Verizon is actually counting on that to happen.

Meanwhile, Verizon is shutting down, selling, and definitely not repairing its existing copper phone lines. If a FiOS buildout isn’t happening, that leaves Verizon’s customers who are hungry for updated internet access with… what, exactly?

Verizon’s ‘FiOS Deployment’ to Boston Will be Mostly Wireless [DSLReports]
Fiber to the Home is Dead. The Plan: Shut Off the Wires and Replace it with Wireless Vaporware. [Huffington Post]

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