Verizon announced its intentions to bring fifth-gen (5G) wireless-data technology to the U.S. sooner than the industry consensus had forecast.
The carrier said it hopes to launch technology field trials next year even though the industry consensus forecast a U.S. launch sometime after 2020.
“5G is no longer a dream of the distant future," said Roger Gurnani, Verizon executive VP and chief information and technology architect.
Verizon was the first U.S. carrier to launch LTE in December 2010, though only in select markets.
5G wireless is expected to deliver about 50 times faster data throughput compared with 4G LTE. LTE delivers peak speeds reaching 450Mbps down and 50Mbps up with a version called Category 9 LTE, though real-world throughput is much less.
5G technology also reduces latency to the single milliseconds from LTE’s 10- to 30-millisecond network latency. Latency is the round-trip time it takes for a packet of data to go to from a smartphone to a cell site and back. With low latency, web pages load faster, some applications run faster, and online gaming is more responsive, analysts said. Low latency also makes for natural-sounding VoIP voice calling.
Fifth-gen wireless is also expected to accommodate “exponentially more Internet-connected devices” in the Internet of Everything, the company added.
To accelerate 5G development, Verizon teamed up with Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung in a 5G Technology Forum, which also includes venture capital groups. The companies have established working teams to aggressively pursue a 5G launch, Verizon said. Verizon also created 5G labs in its Waltham, Mass., and San Francisco Innovation Centers. “Just like in the early days of the development of 4G LTE technology, collaborating in a shared environment will foster compelling applications,” Verizon said.
The Verizon-led effort will keep the U.S. communications industry “vibrant and globally competitive,” said Rima Qureshi, Ericsson chief strategy officer. "A lot of development and requirements for 5G networks have so far come from Asian operators," she said.