US operator Verizon announced plans to hold 5G field trials in 2016 in a bid to “accelerate the expected rate of innovation” of the technology.
In a statement, the company outlined its “aggressive roadmap for 5G”, and said it will work with Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung to ensure “an aggressive pace of innovation”.
Verizon’s announcement is the strongest 5G move so far by any US mobile operator. To date most 5G talk has been dominated by companies outside of the country; Russian operator MegaFon plans to trial 5G at the 2018 World Cup while Japanese operator NTT Docomo wants to have a 5G network up and running by the 2020 Olympic Games.
However, it remains to be seen exactly what will comprise Verizon’s version of 5G in its trials next year, as an official definition and standard for the technology have not yet been defined. Commercial launches are not expected before 2020.
The parties involved form Verizon’s 5G Technology Forum, which kicked off last month.
The forum said it expects 5G technology to have 50 times more data capacity compared to current 4G LTE, and have the ability to “handle exponentially more internet connected devices”, as part of the Internet of Things.
Verizon will create innovation ecosystems in the operator’s two innovation centres in Waltham Massachusetts and San Francisco to enable “collaboration in a shared environment,” as it did when setting out to develop 4G LTE.
Roger Gurnani, EVP and chief information and technology architect for Verizon, said the company feels a “tremendous sense of urgency to push forward on 5G and mobilise the ecosystem by collaborating with industry leaders and developers to usher in a new generation of innovation”.
“5G is no longer a dream of the distant future,” he added.
Ericsson’s chief strategy officer Rima Qureshi hailed Verizon’s leading role in developing the technology, given that “a lot of development and requirements for 5G networks have so far come from Asian operators”.
“It’s exciting to see a US company accelerate the rate of innovation and introduce new partners.”
Along with industry partners, Verizon’s 5G Technology Forum also includes a group of leading east and west coast venture capital groups focused on a variety of emerging technologies. Collectively, Gurnani revealed the partners “represent more than $50 billion in annual research, development and technology investments and thousands of patents.”
Verizon was the first US operator to launch 4G LTE in 2010, and began testing the technology two years before its launch. The company said despite its new focus on 5G, it will continue to grow its LTE offering.