Verizon gains 5G insights from operators in Japan, Korea

Given the pace of R&D going on in Japan and South Korea, it's no surprise that Verizon (NYSE: VZ) would talk to operators in those regions to gain insights on what's going on in 5G.

Verizon told analysts during its analyst day that the company has met with operators in Japan and South Korea to discuss network technologies, Evercore ISI analyst Jonathan Schildkraut wrote in a research note this week. A Verizon spokesman confirmed to FierceWirelessTech that as a normal course of business, "we speak with global operators all the time to find ways to innovate together," but he did not name names.

Similar to past migrations to newer wireless standards -- such as when 3G was just getting rolled out -- Asian operators are using the Olympics to showcase their technology. Korean mobile operator KT has said it's aiming to launch a live service for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games being hosted in the Korean city of Pyeongchang, and Japan's NTT DoCoMo is gearing up to showcase the technology at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Verizon is the first U.S. operator to announce its intent to trial 5G technology, while its biggest rival, AT&T (NYSE: T), has indicated it's too early to be talking about technology plans for a standard that has yet to be written. At a recent Brookings Institution event, AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie noted there's a lot of concern that other parts of the world are trying to lead in 5G and a lot of PR is coming out of Asia, but "we should not be nervous." While everybody is working hard, the industry needs to be mindful of not overpromising and under-delivering, he warned.

According to Schildkraut's report, Verizon believes its development of 5G is about leveraging the next technological shift to gain a first-mover advantage. The operator, which took the lead in LTE deployments, wants to ensure the pace of innovation is aggressive and it's working with its partners in the U.S., which include Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Cisco, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Samsung. The carrier is using its innovation centers in Waltham, Mass., and San Francisco to develop solutions; 5G field trials are expected to begin in 2016.  

Commercial deployment of 5G is not expected to occur until at least 2020. The month-long meeting of the ITU's World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15), which kicked off this week in Geneva, will lay the groundwork for much of the work toward 5G.

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