Verizon boasts that it will be the first mobile data network in the United States to offer 5G technology in a test run this year, and it aims to fulfill the promise by 2020.
As LTE cellular technology is already prevalent, the American carrier sees 5G as the next generation logical step to the interconnected tomorrow. Big names in the tech industry expect to see this technology become an official standard in 2020, so the race is on for mobile operators to have everything needed in place by that time.
For example, NTT DoCoMo wants to provide 5G for its customers before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo makes its debut in 2020, while SK Telecom is more ambitious. The wireless telecom operator says that its 5G network will be operational before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Verizon recently revealed its fourth-quarter financial results, and investors should be satisfied with the evolution.
The consolidated revenue of the company for 2015 clocked in at $131.6 billion, an increase of 3.6 percent when compared to 2014. The breakdown results also show 449,000 postpaid phones and 960,000 tablets during Q4 2015.
At the public results call, the company's Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo reassured its clients of the carrier's dedication to bringing the 5G into their lives as soon as possible.
Although he was discreet about the details of the new technology, he did mention that tests will take place in two Verizon facilities located in San Francisco and Waltham, Massachusetts.
He also pointed out that the uses and scope of 5G technology goes way beyond the mobile industry as we know it today. One direction that the new network promises to take is the Internet of Things, a field that Verizon dabbles in. As LTE focused mainly on fast connection speeds for mobile devices, 5G has the potential to connect smart home devices that communicate with each other through data packets.
Verizon already tapped into the IoT market and it fares better each quarter.
"New revenue streams from IoT are growing, with revenues of approximately $200 million in fourth-quarter 2015 and about $690 million for the full year. This is a year-over-year increase of 18 percent," the carrier's results show.
Preliminary testing shows that 5G connections can work 40 times as fast as today's 4G LTE networks. Tasks such as downloading a BluRay disc will take seconds. In comparison, an optical fiber link such as the one offered by Google Fiber downloads the file within minutes.
Reports indicate that Verizon's 5G future network should match Google Fiber's 1Gbps internet service.
Verizon appealed to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (USFCC) to create the legal infrastructure for the upcoming groundbreaking speeds. Last year, the regulator looked into offering higher frequencies for 5G networks in an effort to help carriers offer better broadband coverage to densely populated areas.
For the 5G technology to work as promised, Verizon and its competitors needs the support of the federal regulator.
"For technical trials themselves, we have what we need," Roger Gurnani, chief information and technology architect for Verizon, pointed out.
In order to move beyond the testing phase, Gurnani believes that the 5G needs a "big band of spectrum."
One tricky thing about deploying 5G technology at an accelerated pace is the lack of a universal agreement on what exactly 5G is. In principle, it uses extremely high frequencies for sending data bursts over short distances, but this could mean a huge effort for carriers. They would have to pepper urban areas with thousands of relays in order to give clients a decent, homogenous network.
This is one of the reasons why some see 5G as a complement, rather than a successor to 4G.
Normally, network technology needs a couple of years from the testing lab to the consumer service. Verizon started to test 4G connections in 2008, but the network opened for regular customers as late as 2010.
To bolster its chances to deliver the promised 5G network until 2020, Verizon teamed up with important OEMs such as Cisco, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia, as well as mobile technology giants Samsung and Qualcomm.