Verizon says it will deliver 5G precommercial services to select customers in 11 markets throughout the country on its 5G network, which encompasses several hundred cell sites covering several thousand customer locations.
Verizon will start offering 5G to pilot customers during the first half of 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta; Bernardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Miami; Sacramento; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. The operator said it marks an important step in commercializing gigabit broadband service to homes and offices via a wireless 5G connection.
Verizon confirmed in January that it had installed 5G equipment for fixed wireless services in more than 10 U.S. cities, but it didn’t name all the cities until today. The company also previously acknowledged that its equipment may not align with the 3GPP’s initial standards for 5G wireless services, so it might have to upgrade its physical equipment to ensure that its services work with the 3GPP’s forthcoming 5G standard.
Verizon said the current project leverages close collaboration with the partners in Verizon’s 5G Technology Forum (5GTF), which it formed in late 2015 to create a common and extendable platform for Verizon’s 28/39 GHz fixed wireless access trials and deployments. Ericsson and Samsung are supplying infrastructure in separate markets for the 11-city rollout, while Intel and Qualcomm Technologies are also supplying tech to support Verizon’s efforts.
“5G technology innovation is rapidly evolving,” said Adam Koeppe, vice president of Network Planning at Verizon, in a prepared statement. “Network density is increasing to meet the demands of customers, and following the FCC’s aggressive action on 5G spectrum, the time is right to deliver the next generation of broadband services with 5G.”
Interestingly, Verizon notes in its press release that the 5GTF ecosystem partners are well on their way to commercializing chipsets, infrastructure products and consumer devices based on the 5GTF specification. Chipsets built for enabling 5G are becoming available from Verizon 5GTF partners, and collaborative 5G activities are taking place with international telecom giants in Japan, Korea and Canada geared toward further acceleration of 5G commercialization globally.
As it did with LTE, Verizon takes pride in being the first to set the pace for 5G before anyone else in the United States. That’s not to say its rivals are standing still, however. AT&T is making Austin, Texas, and Indianapolis, Indiana, its showcase cities for 5G and has been conducting tests in various markets for quite some time. Sprint says its vast 2.5 GHz holdings give it a great deal of experience in dealing with the kind of spectrum that 5G will require, and T-Mobile US—while CTO Neville Ray has poked fun at what he characterizes as “boring” fixed wireless applications—is conducting its own R&D.
Verizon EVP and CFO Matt Ellis said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call that its decision to go commercial with 5G services will depend on a combination of factors, such as deployment costs, speeds and how many homes can be covered by a given node—similar to any major investment it makes.