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Keep Verizon on your Radar

09/24/2019 5:00 am EST

Focus: TECHNOLOGY

Jon Markman

Editor, Tech Trend Trader, The Power Elite, and Strategic Advantage

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has finally arrived. It’s understandable if you’re not especially excited. New smartphones are meh these days. Except this one has fifth generation wireless connectivity, explains Jon Markman, growth stock expert and editor of Strategic Advantage.

The editors at Digital Trends took the Note 10 on a test drive in Providence, R.I., one of a handful of American cities with 5G infrastructure in place. The device did not disappoint.

Download speeds reached almost 2Gbps on the Verizon (VZ) Ultra Wideband 5G network. Let that sink in for a moment. A 2Gbps connection is 50x faster than most home Wifi networks in the United States.

That kind of speed will change the way most people use smartphones. They will go from checking posts on social media and watching the occasion cat video on YouTube, to full on high-definition media consumption. As Digital Trends notes, it’s important to understand that not all 5G networks are created alike.

The Verizon and AT&T (T) networks utilize millimeter wave technology. This is the fastest type of 5G connection but it’s also the most flaky. The range is short (200 meters) and the radio waves have a tough time penetrating exterior walls. For the most part, it’s a line of sight thing.

Sprint (S) is building out its network on the 2.5Ghz spectrum. Connectivity is slower than mmWave, but range and penetration are much better. And T-Mobile is relying on the low band, 600 Mhz spectrum. 5G connectivity is even slower than 2.5Ghz, but the reach is furthest. This means T-Mobile is likely to have the quickest 5G rollout because their network will require less upfront investment in new radios and towers.

But investors should not get too wrapped in the horse race. All of the wireless providers are going to get there, eventually. And they will all have parts of their 5G network strewn across all parts of the wireless spectrum.

The kicker is what becomes possible with all of that speed. 5G wireless solves the last mile problem, the idea that the real cost of delivering telephone, cable and internet to homes is the hassle of running cable, and sending technicians out to hook up set top boxes and modems. 5G networks are fast, dense and have very low latency. They are also wireless. This means new business models.

Verizon and T-Mobile managers see an opportunity to meet the growing demand from so-called cord cutters, people who are dropping expensive cable TV services in favor of video on demand services like Netflix (NFLX), Hulu, Amazon Prime and the upcoming Disney+.

Wireless providers will finally have the bandwidth to compete head to head with wireline telephone, internet and cable TV providers.

eMarketer, a digital marketing research firm, noted in July 2018, that the pace of cord cutting is accelerating. Analysts predict cord cutters will grow to 55.1 million by 2022, 20.8% of the traditional pay TV market. That’s a market worth fighting for. 5G means the wireless providers finally have the tools to tip the battle in their favor.

Verizon is not the type of stock I would normally recommend for the TTT buy list. To be fair, at its core, it is a legitimate technology company, but growth rates are slower than the bulk of technology stocks I follow.

All of that aside, wireless companies are at an important inflection point. 5G changes everything, and it’s not about new smartphones from Samsung. It opens the door wide to new business they have been trying to break into for decades.

Verizon shares trade at 11.9x forward earnings and only 1.9x sales. Its market capitalization is a hefty $243 billion. 5G could add 30% to that total in two years as the roll-out accelerates. Keep Verizon on you radar.

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