INTERNATIONAL - Verizon Communications Inc., taking a key step toward rolling out speedier internet and pay-TV service across the U.S., will start offering a fifth-generation package on Oct. 1 in four cities, with signups beginning this week.
Would-be customers in those initial markets -- Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, California -- will be able to check availability and order the service online starting Thursday at FirstOn5G.com. Verizon’s wireless subscribers will pay $50 a month for the 5G internet and TV service after a three-month free trial. Others will pay $70 a month after the first three months.
Verizon is in a race with AT&T Inc. to introduce the first 5G wireless service -- a standard that promises connection speeds between 10 and 100 times faster than today’s cable. Verizon plans to beam services to home receivers and compete against cable and satellite TV providers like Comcast Corp. and Dish Network Corp. 5G networks also are seen as critical to ushering in an era of robotics and autonomous cars.
TV customers will get free Apple TV devices and Google’s YouTube TV on Roku boxes for streaming video services. Subscribers to the 5G service also will be offered live NFL and NBA games, as well as news programs through Verizon’s own Oath media division.
A major challenge for Verizon and the other wireless carriers is that high-frequency 5G radio signals are easily disrupted by rain and foliage. The service is still commercially unproven, but companies are expected to spend as much as $200 billion a year to develop the technology.
Verizon Chief Executive Officer Hans Vestberg is expected to give investors more details about the company’s 5G plans during a presentation Thursday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York.