Between now and mid-year, Verizon expects to begin pilot tests of next-generation, 5G wireless services in 11 metropolitan regions across the U.S. Aimed at select customers in those regions, the tests will explore a variety of deployment scenarios.
Compared to today's 4G technology, the next generation of wireless communication promises far faster speeds with lower latency and many times more network capacity. Those working to advance 5G say it will enable a wide range of new broadband services for entertainment, education, mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Launched in collaboration with its 5G Technical Forum (5GTF) partners, Verizon's pre-commercial tests are set to take place in Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville, NJ, Brockton, MA, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
'Industry Groundswell of Support'
Since launching the 5GTF in late 2015, Verizon has seen "an industry groundswell of support for 5G," said Sanyogita Shamsunder, the company's director of network infrastructure planning. Together with its forum partners, Verizon began early-stage testing of the technology last year.
Verizon's 5GTF partners include Apple, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, Samsung and Qualcomm.
"In this phase of the trial, we are going beyond the prototype equipment in exactly the configuration that we will be eventually building out our commercial network," Shamsunder said. "We wanted to be able to test and understand the challenges as well as the opportunities in various geographies, various topographies, various building materials."
Based on the specification developed by the 5GTF, Verizon said, forum partners are "well on their way to commercializing chipsets, infrastructure products and consumer devices" for the next generation of wireless broadband.
FCC Spectrum Rules Promoted 5G
Verizon is not the only wireless company testing 5G services in the U.S. AT&T last December claimed to have launched the nation's first 5G business customer trial in Austin, TX, and it plans to introduce 5G wireless Internet services commercially in both Austin and Indianapolis in the near future.
According to Adam Koeppe, Verizon's vice president of network planning, next-generation wireless technologies received a boost with the Federal Communication Commission's "aggressive action on 5G spectrum" last year.
The FCC in July adopted new rules for wireless spectrum above 24 GHz -- in the millimeter-wave band -- that it said were aimed at enabling "rapid development and deployment of next-generation 5G technologies and services."
Writing in a blog post last summer, Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said that "5G connectivity will likely be more than an incremental evolutionary step forward in wireless technology. It promises quantum leaps forward in three key areas: speeds resembling fiber that are at least 10 times and maybe 100-times faster than today's 4G LTE networks; responsiveness less than one-thousandth of a second, which enables real-time communication; and network capacity multiples of what is available today."
Combined with the computing power made possible with the cloud, 5G, Wheeler said, "will enable autonomous vehicles, smart-city energy grids and water systems, immersive education and entertainment, and, most important, killer applications yet to be imagined."