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Verizon CEO sees functioning 5G wireless in half the US next year

Key Points
  • Half of the U.S. will be 5G accessible by 2020, says Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.
  • By 2024, he predicts 50% of Americans will actually operate 5G phones.
  • Verizon announces four more 5G cities ahead of reporting mixed quarterly results.
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Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg: Half of the US will have 5G phones by 2024

About half of the United States should expect to have functioning 5G wireless technology by 2020, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told CNBC on Thursday.

"I think that's next year," Vestberg said, when asked when he sees the next-generation technology reaching 50% of America. By 2024, half the population will actually have a 5G phone, he added.

Verizon on Wednesday announced that it's expanding its 5G service locations, adding Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis and Washington. Those cities will join Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Providence, Rhode Island and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Later in the year, the company said, 5G will be available in more than 30 cities, including Dallas, Boston, San Diego and Phoenix.

Vestberg, who took over as CEO last year, said the company has been "constantly" improving and updating the software over the past two months.

"I think 4G took much longer time to actually reach those improvements," he said. "I see good trajectory."

Vestberg appeared on "Squawk Box " with CNBC's David Faber, shortly after the company reported a mixed quarterly financial report. Verizon beat Wall Street estimates with its adjusted earnings but missed on revenue. The company added a net 245,000 phone subscribers during the quarter, above the 163,000 that analysts had been forecasting.

Shares of the telecom company were up about 1.1% Thursday morning.