US mobile operator Verizon is to offer fixed wireless 5G services in 11 markets by the end of June as part of a major pilot programme.
The offering will be based on its 5G Technology Forum (5GTF), which includes Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung, among others, and is aimed at defining parameters for 5G specifications in advance of future standards.
Verizon didn’t provide details on exactly who would be able to access the network, noting “select customers” will benefit. However, the operator is pitching this as “the largest proving ground in the world” for 5G, encompassing “several hundred cell sites that cover several thousand customer locations.”
The metropolitan areas targeted are Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville (NJ), Brockton (MA), Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Partners Ericsson and Samsung were quoted in the press release announcing the plans. “The 5G systems we are deploying will soon provide wireless broadband service to homes, enabling customers to experience cost-competitive, gigabit speeds that were previously only deliverable via fibre,” said Woojune Kim, VP Next Generation Business Team, Samsung Electronics.
A separate statement from Samsung said the South Korean vendor will work with Verizon in five cities (business and residential districts of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington and an unnamed fifth location) from April.
Verizon is on a mission to lead the way in global deployment. While it will face strong competition from Korean and Japanese carriers to become the world’s first 5G operator, it looks likely to be the first to launch in the US. It was the first US operator to launch 4G in 2010.
“The Verizon 5GTF delivered an open specification for 5G fixed wireless that is immediately implementable,” the company stated.
Verizon’s statement may have been designed to allay fears its equipment may not align with the 3GPP’s initial standards for 5G wireless services (due for ratification next year), and therefore the operator may have to upgrade physical equipment at its sites to ensure its services work with the 3GPP’s forthcoming 5G standard.
The fixed wireless pilot rollouts are expected to utilise 28GHz and 39GHz spectrum bands. A movement to mobile deployment is expected to follow as the pilots progress.
Earlier this month rival AT&T said it expects to achieve data rates of 1Gb/s during a dual-city 5G trial by the end of 2017. AT&T’s trials are taking place in Austin, Texas and Indianapolis, Indiana. Today it also announced it has completed fixed wireless ‘5G’ tests with Nokia that saw it stream its DIRECTV NOW service over the 39GHz spectrum band at the AT&T Labs facility in New Jersey.