LIVE FROM CTIA SUPER MOBILITY WEEK, LAS VEGAS: The big four US operators gave an update on their strategy and hopes for 5G deployment this morning, while US Cellular revealed it will begin trials in the next few days.

The country’s fifth largest carrier plans to kick off a trial in 28GHz spectrum next week with an unnamed “incumbent vendor”, before moving to a 15GHz trial. “Then maybe we’ll look at a third trial,” said Michael Irizarry, CTO (pictured above, second from right).

Irizarry added that he hopes the trials will give an insight into which services work best over certain frequencies.

He was speaking at a special CTO session on ‘Building the Road to 5G.’ During the discussion AT&T’s Tom Keathley (SVP, Wireless Network Architecture and Design, pictured second from left)) – itself already in the process of conducting a number of 5G trials – suggested that commercial deployment of the technology could be sooner than expected.

The industry is in general agreement that a mid-2018 timeframe is likely for ratification of Phase 1 of a 5G standard, but Keathley said that “late 2017” could be possible if the industry – in particular, the chipset sector – rallies around efforts to advance deployment of 5G.

Meanwhile Verizon – which was first out of the starting blocks with 5G trials following an announcement at last year’s Super Mobility Week – gave further insight on its claimed efforts to have completed its 5G radio specifications.

When asked if he was concerned that the carrier’s progress may end up producing 5G kit to a spec not fully aligned with the 3GPP’s official Release 15 definition of 5G, Adam Koeppe (VP, Network Technology Planning, pictured far right) defended the move by saying Verizon’s work is backed by the same group of vendors involved in the official Phase 1 work. “We could also fix any changes with software,” explained Koeppe.

Elsewhere on the panel, Sprint’s Ron Marquardt (VP, Technology Innovation and Architecture, third from left) reflected on its recent 5G trial at the Copa America, (stating that around 200,000 people had the opportunity to see the technology in action), while T-Mobile’s Karri Kuoppamaki (VP, Network Technology Development and Strategy, pictured third from right) outlined his own company’s 5G progress, moving from the lab to field trials.

“We’ve been able to see some of the things associated with 5G – millimetre wave, low latency and massive MIMO,” commented Kuoppamaki.