Verizon plans 5G Home Internet in every city where it deploys mobile 5G 0 28

Verizon plans 5G Home Internet in every city where it deploys mobile 5G

5G in the home —

Verizon Wireless home Internet due for expansion, but 5G availability is sparse.


A Verizon router in a home along with text that says,

Enlarge / A Verizon ad for its 5G Home service.

Verizon says it will bring its “5G Home” Internet service to every market where it deploys 5G mobile service.

That might not be saying much, given how limited Verizon’s early 5G deployments are. But it would mean that at least some people in each 5G mobile market would be able to buy the 5G fixed Internet service, which offers an alternative to wired Internet.

“You should expect that every market that opens a 5G mobility market will in due course be a 5G fixed wireless [market] because it is one network,” Verizon Consumer Group CEO Ronan Dunne said Wednesday at an investor conference (link to webcast and transcript).

Verizon brought 5G Home to parts of four cities—Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento—late last year, charging $70 a month for service with no data caps and typical download speeds of 300Mbps.

Verizon plans to launch 5G mobile in parts of 30 cities by the end of 2019, and the company has done so in 10 of those cities so far. Those cities are Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Phoenix, Providence, Washington DC, Atlanta, Detroit, and Indianapolis. Other cities getting Verizon mobile 5G later this year include Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Houston, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, San Diego, and Salt Lake City.

After testing the home service in the four pilot cities, Dunne said Verizon is “ready to go mass market” with 5G Home. The “full commercial launch” of the home service will happen in the “back end of this year,” he said.

Early 5G deployments are limited

But Verizon’s early 5G launches, which use millimeter-wave spectrum for both mobile and home service, have been anything but widespread. This isn’t surprising, given that these high-band frequencies have trouble covering large distances and indoor spaces. Reviewers of early Verizon 5G mobile deployments had trouble finding mobile signals, and Verizon’s 5G Home service only covered a fraction of each launch city.

5G can work on any frequency, but the biggest speed gains come on millimeter-wave spectrum bands because there’s simply more spectrum available in those higher frequencies. But carriers have admitted that millimeter-wave coverage won’t scale beyond densely populated urban areas.

Verizon rolled out millimeter-wave 5G to 13 NFL stadiums, but the network isn’t good enough to cover all of the seating areas in any one of those stadiums. In some of those cities, the stadium is the only place where Verizon 5G is available at all.

Given that, you shouldn’t necessarily expect to get Verizon 5G home Internet even if you’re in one of the upcoming launch cities. But if your home is in range of the Verizon network, it could be a good option since it’s a fixed connection rather than a mobile one that can vary widely in speed and availability as you move about a city.

In-home antennas

Verizon’s first 5G Home launch was based on its own version of 5G instead of the 5G New Radio (NR) industry standard. But toward the end of this year, Dunne said that Verizon “will launch the first of our 5G Home markets that are on the NR platform.” That’s because NR equipment is now becoming readily available, Verizon said.

Despite using non-standard 5G, the early deployments in four cities helped Verizon “understand how we develop our go-to-market and how we actually market street-by-street,” Dunne also said. The early deployment helped Verizon determine the right “balance between indoor and outdoor antennas and the proportion of those indoor antennas that can be self-activated rather than needing to have a truck roll,” he said.

Nearly 80 percent of new 5G Home deployments rely on an antenna inside a customer’s home instead of outside, like on the roof, making it easier for customers to set it up themselves, he said. “That’s critical for [customers], the ability to self-provision,” he said. Like wired Internet, the fixed wireless service uses a router in the home to create a Wi-Fi network.

The in-home equipment today is “effectively using a cellphone chipset” instead of something more powerful, Dunne said. But the next generation of chips available in the first half of 2020 will bring “higher power output” to the home Internet service, he said.

Verizon will eventually deploy mobile 5G on the lower-band spectrum it uses for 4G, but Verizon says the speed gains from 5G on this spectrum will be minimal. If Verizon also brings 5G Home to lower spectrum bands, we’d expect that the top speeds would fall far short of what cable and fiber networks are capable of, and there’d be a greater likelihood of Verizon imposing data caps.

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“The Switcher” is real: Witcher 3 on Switch is a blurry, tolerable compromise 0 14

“The Switcher” is real: Witcher 3 on Switch is a blurry, tolerable compromise

Yes, it has wet butts —

How do you shrink such a demanding RPG down to Switch’s weaker specs? This is how.


In good news, you can boot straight into expansion content when loading this version of <em>The Witcher 3</em>. I imagine more than a few fans of the game will use this Switch version to dive deeply into either or both of the expansions.” src=”https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019101116304400-2AF2C4CCD5F28D087B476BE33BFE1BF8-800×450.jpg”></img><figcaption>
<p><a data-height=Enlarge / In good news, you can boot straight into expansion content when loading this version of The Witcher 3. I imagine more than a few fans of the game will use this Switch version to dive deeply into either or both of the expansions.

Since Nintendo’s Switch console launched in 2016, we’ve seen no shortage of holy-cow ports of games we never thought would work on what turned out to be the most underpowered console of this generation. Doom 2016, Dark Souls, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus—that’s a list of demanding 3D games I never expected to launch on Switch, let alone games I’d actually recommend for the system.

But I do so with a pretty hefty asterisk attached. The charm of these games on Switch comes almost entirely due to them being playable on the go, at which point their severe compromises (image quality, rendering resolution) become much more acceptable. What looks iffy on a full-sized TV is easier to shrug off when seen on a six-inch 720p panel.

This week marks the arrival of arguably the most holy-cow port yet on the portable console: CD Projekt Red’s 2015 action-RPG The Witcher 3. This is a game, after all, whose other console versions required quite a few patches to get their most troublesome spots up to a locked 30 frames per second. We went hands-on over the weekend with the game’s final retail version (which launches for Switch on Tuesday) to answer a crucial question: could we expect playability in CDPR’s acclaimed adventure game on an even weaker system?

Not every polygon came through unscathed

  • In many ways, The Witcher 3 dedicates its Switch polygons where they count.

  • And when pre-baked lighting effects emerge, cinematic scenes can look quite handsome, even if they run closer to 20fps.

  • But while characters and certain scenes can look fantastic, a lot of the game’s default geometry, particularly its foliage, can look quite weird.

  • There’s also the matter of some rampant texture pop-in in some cinematic scenes.

  • Even in this cinematic scene, the effects of reduced screen resolution come into play.

  • Some optimized cinema scenes can look crisp and clear enough.

  • What you’re really looking for is real-time gameplay, and the rest of this gallery focuses on that.

  • We don’t have pixel-counting gear in-house, but in action, this looks on par with Doom 2016‘s Switch port.

  • The physics attached to these trees in a wind storm makes them look pretty convincing—at least, as opposed to some of the lower-poly foliage in other scenes.

  • There’s one wolf and one deer in there. That can be kind of hard to discern, even in action.

  • The view distance is okay, but nothing to scream home about.

  • Low-res Witcher.

  • There’s more than bad weather affecting the visibility in this moment.

  • Witchers can just barge in anywhere, can’t they.

The good news is that our initial impressions reveal a mostly locked 30fps refresh rate—stable enough to where the slightest frame rate hiccups have been nigh unnoticeable in our first few hours of play. The most crucial moments of battle and enemy management aren’t ruined by the on-screen action herking and jerking. This is met by some seriously quick loading times; getting from a cold boot to a loaded game save is rarely more than 60 seconds, and loading times between parts of the world are even faster.

The bad news, as can be seen in the gallery above, is that Witcher 3 on the Switch looks a lot more like Witcher 2. For starters, its apparent resolution is some of the blurriest we’ve ever seen on Switch in both docked and portable modes. While the results look comparable to Doom 2016, Witcher 3 is a much slower game, and it demands that you let your eyes linger over massive, dramatically lit landscapes and towns. The blur draped over all of that scenery is more noticeable than, say, a rapid-fire pulse of shotguns through demons’ faces.

Those landscapes are covered in foliage, a fact that impressed back in 2015 with CDPR’s dense rendering system working nearly as well on console as it did on PC. But that system’s polygon count and texture density have both been scaled back dramatically to get trees, shrubs, and other greenery working on Switch. This was probably done to preserve facial detail on pretty much every human character in the game, which is certainly a preferable compromise, but the disconnect between an emotionally brooding Geralt and a dinky, PlayStation 2-era wall of vines is one fans will have to accept if they want to marathon this version of Witcher 3 on the go.

Other major settings like shadow resolution, ground textures, and hair physics have also been scaled back, which you can argue is acceptable or annoying based on your personal preferences. The lower resolution of the Switch screen makes these downgrades a little more tolerable, in my opinion. But enough of the game’s geometry has been noticeably de-tuned that it stands out in the game’s lengthy, well-written cinema scenes (which, I should note, often struggle in the frame rate department, sometimes dipping into 10-15fps range).

One moment, the game will smother its scenery in some of the most handsome, pre-baked lighting effects you may have ever seen on Switch. The next moment, a tight zoom on Geralt and his allies stutters with texture pop-in and grungy foliage effects nearby. That kind of startling visual contrast shows up in this Switch port more than I expected.

Totally playable—just be warned

I don’t mean to say Witcher 3 is unplayable or ruined by the effort spent getting it into Switch-compatible shape. However, completely new players should be warned that CDPR’s cinematic vision for the game is compromised just enough to take this port out of my running for a clear-cut recommendation. If you’ve already played Witcher 3 and want an excuse to burn through it anew on the go, complete with convenient “fast forward to the expansions” shortcuts, then yes, this port is a great reason to return to Nilfgaard. If you don’t have any other consoles or a decent gaming PC, then “Switcher 3” is absolutely playable. (Plus, in my personal opinion, it’s better than Switch’s Skyrim as an on-the-go RPG, even with low resolutions and other visual compromises.)

But if you do have another hardware option and aren’t necessarily itching for a purely portable RPG, take a breath and look at other systems’ heavily discounted versions before making this your very first way to play the game.

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Liveblog: Google’s Pixel 4 (and friends) launch event starts 10/15 0 5

Liveblog: Google’s Pixel 4 (and friends) launch event starts 10/15

Tune in tuesday —

Tune in at 10am ET for the Pixel 4, Pixelbook Go, Nest WiFi, and more.


Promotional image of two smartphones side by side.

Enlarge / Google’s first official picture of the Pixel 4.

It’s that time of year again! Google’s big hardware event kicks off Tuesday, October 15 at 10am Eastern, and we’ll be there with full live coverage of the event. That starts with a liveblog, where we’ll be covering everything announced at the show as it happens.

This year should see a whole suite of Google products launch. Headlining the event will be Google’s next smartphone, the Pixel 4, with a 90Hz display, an air-gesture system powered by Google’s radar “Soli” technology, and a next-gen version of the Google Assistant. There should also be a new Pixelbook, the Pixelbook Go, which sees a return to a more traditional form factor after the collapse of the Pixel Slate.

With Nest’s recent demotion from a standalone company to a Google smart home sub-brand, we should see two new products with the weird branding of “Google Nest.” We’re expecting to see a sequel to the Google Wifi called the “Google Nest Wifi.” This new rev of Google’s mesh Wi-Fi system will reportedly have a primary router that hooks up to your modem and then several satellite devices that are both Wi-Fi mesh nodes and Google Home speakers that accept Google Assistant voice command and can play music. A second-gen Google Home Mini should also launch at the show with an aux jack and better sound, and this one will be rebranded “Google Nest Mini.”

Finally, there’s expected to be a new version of the Google Pixel Buds. Hopefully this time they are fully wireless.

While a lot about Google’s future lineup has leaked, there’s still plenty we hope to learn from the show. We don’t know the prices, release dates, or (probably very limited) country availability for anything. Other than some text descriptions, the Nest Home Mini, Nest Wifi, and new Pixel Buds are mostly mysteries. We’re also not exactly sure why you would want Project Soli in a smartphone or what other surprises Google has in store for the Pixel software.

All will be revealed October 15 at 10am, so be sure to follow along live.

Liveblog starts in:

View Liveblog

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