After being the first wireless carrier in the U.S. to widely deploy 4G LTE technology, Verizon is striving to be the first to launch a 5G network as well.
The 5G technology is expected to arrive after 2020, but Verizon will begin trials as early as next year with some of its hardware and networking equipment partners. Verizon, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung were all part of the "Verizon 5G Technology Forum," which launched last month. There, the companies established working groups to ensure an aggressive pace for researching and developing the 5G technology.
The first 5G network "sandboxes" are being created in Verizon's Waltham, Mass., and San Francisco Innovation Centers. Verizon hopes that by collaborating in a shared environment, 5G applications will arrive sooner.
“5G is no longer a dream of the distant future," said Roger Gurnani, executive vice president and chief information and technology architect for Verizon. “We feel a tremendous sense of urgency to push forward on 5G and mobilize the ecosystem by collaborating with industry leaders and developers to usher in a new generation of innovation."
The 5G networks are expected to handle not just 50 times the throughput of 4G technology, but also "exponentially more Internet-connected devices," especially as the "Internet of Everything" market is expected to explode over the next few years. Many of those devices will be connected directly to the Internet, so wireless networks will have to handle all of them.
To compare the current progress of 5G to 4G, Verizon started a 10-cell 4G network sandbox around Boston in 2008, then the first 4G LTE data call was made in 2009, and in December 2010, Verizon launched its 4G network covering 39 major metropolitan areas and more than 60 airports.
Going by that rate of progress, we can assume that if the first 5G network sandboxes will be built next year, then sometime in 2019 we could see the first 5G network launch in the U.S. Of course, it will be a few more years until most people are covered, just as it took five years for 4G LTE to cover 98 percent of the U.S. population.
According to Verizon, even if its focus is now on deploying 5G as soon as possible, the company will continue to improve its 4G network and launch new products on it.