Verizon: 'We need to have a single standard' for 5G

FierceWireless' Mike Dano (left) moderates "5G Evolution: Transitioning from Fixed to Mobile" at Mobile World Congress '17.

BARCELONA, Spain—Verizon still hopes to see “a single standard” serve as a foundation for 5G, a key executive said Tuesday, even if it doesn't sign on to every proposal along the way.

The nation’s largest carrier was conspicuous by its absence earlier this week when a group of 22 companies signed off on a proposal to support a corresponding work plan for the first phase of the 5G NR specification at the next 3GPP RAN plenary meeting next week in Croatia. Backers include major carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, and other heavyweight supporters include Ericsson, Intel, Huawei and ZTE.

As some carriers rush headlong into the race to deploy 5G, the companies hope to lay the foundation for next-generation technologies to reach their full potential, said Antje Williams, executive program manager for 5G for Deutsche Telekom.

“What we believe is that we need a global standard, and fragmentation is the worst thing that can happen,” Williams said during a FierceWireless luncheon event at MWC, titled 5G: Transitioning from fixed to mobile. “The 5G race is here, and it’s on.”

The race is indeed on for operators around the world, although carriers are pursuing next-generation technologies to varying degrees. T-Mobile US, for instance, continues to focus on maximizing its 4G technologies and services rather than punch the accelerator toward 5G. Verizon, on the other hand, has vocally expressed its eagerness to test and deploy 5G as quickly as realistically possible.

That eagerness has left some concerned that it could result in a fragmented marketplace, though. Verizon is a massive carrier, of course, but it risks becoming an outlier if it uses technologies that don’t ultimately become part of universal standards.

But Sanyogita Shamsunder, Verizon's director of network infrastructure planning, said the latest proposal is a relatively small part a much broader picture where much work has yet to be done.

“There are a lot of aspects of 5G that are not part of this,” Shamsunder said. “We need to have a single standard … The devil is in the details."