Verizon revealed it is collaborating with Corning, Ericsson, Federated Wireless, Google, Nokia and Qualcomm on intensive end-to-end 3.5GHz testing ahead of expected commercial deployments in the band later this year.

Current trials include tests of spectrum access system algorithms from Google and Federated Wireless needed to coordinate optimal channel assignments in the shared band, which is known in the US as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).

Verizon is also evaluating interoperability between infrastructure providers to ensure seamless handoffs between the shared spectrum and its licensed airwaves. Tests of data rates and modulations in the band are also under way, as are evaluations of performance and data sent via LTE over 3.5GHz spectrum.

Bill Stone, Verizon’s VP of technology development and planning, said the trials are “critical to stress test the full system”.

Verizon said Qualcomm supplied an LTE modem which provides 3.5GHz access on mobile devices, while Corning, Ericsson and Nokia delivered indoor and outdoor radio systems.

Testing began in February and is expected to continue over the next several weeks. Equipment for the band will need to be certified by the Federal Communications Commission before deployments can move forward, but Verizon said launches are expected to begin sometime this year.

The operator noted it plans to use the spectrum to add capacity to its network through carrier aggregation. A Verizon representative told Mobile World Live (MWL) CBRS-capable devices will begin entering the operator’s lineup by the end of 2018 and will continue to expand aggressively through 2019.

Wireless rivals AT&T and T-Mobile US are also eyeing the 3.5GHz band, as are cable competitors including Comcast and Charter. In February, Nokia North America CTO Mike Murphy told MWL at least one US broadband provider is planning to launch 5G on 3.5GHz spectrum, but did not specify whether the company would be a cable or wireless operator.