By Jeffrey Schwartz
Samsung and Verizon are finding mutual benefit in launching their respective 5G products and services together.
While Verizon is the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. in terms of subscribers and has laid the groundwork for delivering its 5G services for several years, it has disclosed less than its nearest rivals about when and where its commercial 5G services will become available. Samsung gave Verizon a boost by giving the carrier an exclusive window to offer its new Galaxy 10 5G phone, when it arrives this summer.
The Galaxy 10 5G is Samsung’s first 5G phone, launched among three other Galaxy 10 models and the new Galaxy Fold, a tablet with hinges that folds into a phone, at its Unpacked event last week in San Francisco. Samsung’s new 5G phone will initially be available only from Verizon and its channel partners, though ultimately AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint will be able to offer it this fall.
Verizon used the Samsung Galaxy 10 5G launch, and its exclusive distribution window, as a staging ground to elaborate on its own network rollout plans.
“It’s just amazing that finally were standing here at the brink of bringing 5G to the market,” said Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, speaking at the Samsung event. “Our Verizon customers are going to be the first to get the 5G phones in their hand.”
Less than, 24 hours later, Verizon hosted its first investor day for analysts in seven years. At the event, held in New York, Vestberg and his senior executive team outlined the carrier’s strategy, including its planned rollout of 5G in at least 30 U.S. markets this year.
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While Verizon didn’t reveal which markets will be the first to have 5G service, company officials said they will only announce availability in an area once that market has full coverage, not just a handful of base stations.
“When I talk about 30 markets or more, those are real markets that will be open for sale,” said Ronan Dunne, EVP and group president of Verizon wireless, during his presentation at the investor event.
Verizon hasn’t disclosed pricing, nor did Samsung didn’t reveal how much customers will pay for its new 5G phone. While Verizon gets first dibs on offering the Samsung 10 5G, it won’t be the carrier’s first 5G phone. Motorola will be the first with its new Moto z3 paired with a the 5G Moto Mod, a peripheral component that runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem.
Neither company said why Samsung was giving Verizon the exclusive nod.
“It raises questions about who’s going to be best equipped to handle 5G early this summer and maybe they looked into it and they felt like it was Verizon,” said Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst of Techanalysis Research.
Other than partners prototyping solutions, it remains to be seen how many customers will opt for presumably more costly 5G phones in the near term. Steve Shaffer, CEO of IT services provider Zunesis, said while he’s looking forward to rollout of 5G services and devices, it’s hard to get too excited when …