5G might be inching closer to commercial reality, as Verizon said on Wednesday, Feb. 22, that it will begin offering its high-speed 5G network to pilot customers in 11 U.S. cities in mid-2017.

Verizon Kicks Off 5G Trial Plans

The Big Red had already confirmed last July that it laid out plans to facilitate 5G trials of its network for this year. Its 5G connectivity will offer wireless fiber-level speeds, positioned as at least 10 or maybe even up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks, potentially able to connect 100 billion devices with 10 Gbps download speeds.

Preparing for the imminent launch, the company is reportedly building its cell sites at present, as per a report by ZDNet.

"5G technology innovation is rapidly evolving," said Adam Koeppe, Verizon's network planning VP. "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."

Cities Part Of Verizon's 5G Trial Service

The company will commence pilot testing of 5G pre-commercial trials in these cities:

• Ann Arbor, Michigan

• Atlanta, Georgia

• Bernardsville, New Jersey

• Brockton, Massachusetts

• Dallas, Texas

• Denver, Colorado

• Houston, Texas

• Miami, Florida

• Sacramento, California

• Seattle, Washington

• Washington, D.C.

The 5G trial will use fixed wireless equipment for home broadband instead of mobile networks for roving devices. For future high-speed mobile broadband, however, carriers say that they will need the early use of millimeter-wave frequencies.

Verizon isn't the lone player in the 5G fame. AT&T, which already kicked off its 5G trial services at an Intel facility in Austin, also has plans to conduct wireless 5G connectivity trials for homes in Austin and Indianapolis later this year. As part of those trials, the company is also expected to stream DirecTV for the participants.

If 5G comes into full fruition, that means increased internet connectivity for smartphones, of course, but that's not the sole benefit — its most important implementation will be for self-driving cars, internet of things devices, and more. 5G connectivity promises extremely low latency, which allows for nearly 1:1 inter-device communication. Autonomous cars, for instance, can leverage this to change driving conditions more quickly than humans, thereby spelling increased road safety.

At this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, carriers are expected to announce more forthcoming 5G trial services on top of discussions about chipsets. Verizon says that chipsets from Qualcomm, Intel, and Samsung are also being made, presumably to integrate 5G technology. These companies, along with Ericsson, are part of the Verizon 5G Technology Forum.

"Ericsson's partnership with Verizon in rolling out 5G customer trials is accelerating the global 5G ecosystem," said Rima Qureshi, Ericsson's Head of Region, North America. "These end-to-end solutions are a key step for preparing Verizon's network for commercial deployment with different 5G scenarios and use cases."

What do you think? Could 5G connectivity finally be upon us? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!

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