Verizon plans 5G trials in 2016

US operator Verizon is to set up two 5G network trials in the US, working with six vendors.

The company says it is aiming for field trials in 2016 and commercial service “some time after 2020”.

Verizon lists its partners as Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung, which set up Verizon’s 5G technology forum in August 2015, “and have established working teams to ensure an aggressive pace of innovation”, says Verizon. 

“5G is no longer a dream of the distant future,” said Roger Gurnani, executive vice president and chief information and technology architect for Verizon. “We feel 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.”

Marcus Weldon, chief technology officer of Alcatel-Lucent and president of Bell Labs, said: “Having Verizon initiate this effort now, even as 4G LTE technology has so much headroom left, will no doubt add to the rich fabric of our digital lives for many years to come.”

The companies will create 5G network environments, or sandboxes, in Verizon’s Waltham, Massacchusetts, and San Francisco innovation centres. “When you’re planning a technological evolution at this scale it must be a collaboration of players in the ecosystem,” said Weldon. 

Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer for Ericsson, said: “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.”

In addition to working with communications and technology leaders, Verizon’s 5G technology forum also includes a group of venture capital groups focused on a variety of emerging technologies.

“Each partner is a leader, but together we represent more than $50 billion in annual research, development and technology investments and thousands of patents,” Gurnani said. “Collectively we are bringing to bear an incredible amount of resources and intellectual capital to introduce the next generation of wireless technology.”

The project follows a pattern Verizon established in 2008 when it pioneered the development of 4G LTE technology. It started testing in 2008 with the creation of a 10-cell network sandbox around Boston. The first LTE data call was made in August 2009, and Verizon commercially launched the first US LTE network in December 2010. 

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