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No 5G iPhone in 2019? Verizon CEO isn't worried

Verizon's boss says he's focused on the 5G smartphones the carrier plans to launch next year.

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Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg talks 5G and media at a Business Insider conference. 

Verizon

The excitement over 5G is at such high levels that even the prospect of Apple dawdling on the technology isn't enough to get Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg down. 

Asked whether he's worried that Apple is reportedly holding off on 5G until 2020, Vestberg said he's focused on the 5G smartphones that are coming out next year. On Monday, Verizon said it's working with Samsung to bring a 5G smartphone to the US. 

"Samsung has been extremely strong in the last couple of years, so we're going to have an iconic 5G phone in the first half of 2019," he said at the Business Insider Ignition conference in New York on Tuesday.

Verizon plans to launch a mobility service based on the 5G phone coming from Samsung in the first half of 2019, Vestberg said, but he declined to get more specific.

Vestberg's comments are just the latest splash of 5G hype in the mobile industry as the next-generation cellular technology edges closer to its commercial debut in the next few months. There's a race to get to 5G first, and while Vestberg vows Verizon will be first, AT&T is poised to launch its mobile 5G service in the next few weeks. 

An Apple spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.

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5G is seen as a potentially massive leap in connectivity, able to power different technologies like streaming virtual reality or a massive network of connected devices. The technology is expected to bring a big jump in speed and responsiveness to your smartphone and other mobile devices. 

But given our already high levels of dependence on our phones, Vestberg was asked whether all that added connectivity is even a good thing. 

"Every technology always comes with some challenges," Vestberg said, but added that he doesn't see it as a reason to stop innovating. 

"Our job is to bring out the good of this technology, but also [to think about what things aren't good]," he said. 

He expressed an openness to discussing regulation and policies "that are good for mankind."

Unlike its rival AT&T, Verizon hasn't made any major media acquisitions, settling for the smaller purchases of Yahoo and AOL. Vestberg reiterated that he's not interested in selling those assets. When asked if Verizon needs to buy a bigger media property, he said the company's strength is in its network. 

He added that he's focused on nurturing short-form mobile entertainment.

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