UPDATED 22/4: The concept of ‘speed’ is a much talked about element of future 5G networks, but US mobile operator Verizon has a slightly different focus on 5G speeds right now as it seems more intent on driving fast development of the technology than touting headline-grabbing gigabit download rates.
Speaking in a keynote at the Brooklyn 5G Summit this morning, Verizon Wireless’ VP of networks, Adam Koeppe (pictured), repeatedly stressed the operator’s desire to “move things along a lot faster than they typically go in our industry.”
The operator was first out of the blocks in the US to unveil 5G trial plans, announcing last September that it would hold 5G field trials in 2016. At the time it said it was working with Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung as part of Verizon’s 5G Technology Forum. In February at Mobile World Congress (MWC) it said it was set to move to pre-commercial form factors and testing later this year. And at MWC it also formed a partnership with Asian operators NTT Docomo, KT and SK Telecom, called the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance, on the development of 5G trial networks.
“The biggest thing in this group is passion,” commented Koeppe today. “We sit down every few months and go through what we are going to do collectively to get to 5G faster. The four here are very much in tune with rapidly expanding the technology landscape. It’s a group of like-minded operators and a way to drive things faster.”
And there was more reference to ‘faster’ throughout the presentation; Koeppe said Verizon is fully committed to the 5G standardisation process but wants to “make it go faster,” while the operator is keen to “find the innovation that is occurring and make it go faster.”
Koeppe said Verizon already has “a lot” of field trials happening now: “real-world environments in both fixed and wireless.”
On the subject of actual speeds, the Verizon network head told Light Reading on the sidelines of the event that it has pushed data rates over 1 Gb/s in some (“eight or nine”) of its 5G field trials and is testing equipment at 15GHz, 28GHz, 39GHz and 64GHz.
Koeppe stressed in his keynote that 5G development would benefit from wider support. “We want to create a lot of excitement in the ecosystem. That’s why we are talking about what we are doing now and later. We want to create a buzz. That’s a key way to progress the technology… We need action. We’re driving a lot of that but we need the entire ecosystem to get moving. This is exactly the path we want to go down – rapid innovation.”
Koeppe was certain that the 5G development cycle will be a lot shorter than the industry is typically used to. Despite this bullish approach, industry consensus suggests 5G won’t be officially standardised for at least another year or two, with the first fully commercial networks launched in 2020.