From 3G to 4G, people want their smartphones to have better and faster connectivity, and they want it now. Apple may be taking the next step, with 5G network tests to start in California.
As reported in Business Insider, Apple applied for a license to use millimeter wave, an experimental, wireless network technology. This would be the basis for a future 5G network Apple would employ to improve iPhone internet connectivity.
For clarity, though, "5G" is a general moniker for any tech that could potentially replace the current LTE networks in use by most major cell companies. There is no definitive path to get there, or what it will be, so this is something that will be determined by the companies in question.
"Apple Inc. seeks to assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum ... These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers' future 5G networks," states the application, according to Business Insider.
To make this a reality, Apple will begin testing the new millimeter wave technology in two California locations. One is on Mariani Avenue, where Apple's original headquarters was located before it was moved to 1 Infinite Loop. The other location is an Apple-owned facility in Milpitas, on Yosemite Drive. The signal will run between these two facilities, testing the speed and strength of this new network tech over the course of a year.
Another goal of this test is to see if Apple can get the wave tech up to a workable state, because it currently has problems keeping a signal over long distances and through multiple materials.
This news comes nearly a month after cellular service providers, like AT&T and Verizon, began testing upgraded 4G LTE networks. These tests and upgrades would ideally serve as the basis for any future 5G networks, with the first 5G zones possibly being ready for launch by the end of the year.
The timing of this application also comes at an interesting point, with Apple embroiled in a legal battle with chipmaker Qualcomm over license fees.
Qualcomm is one of the chip companies also looking to prep 5G-ready tech, though given the legal battle, it's unlikely that Apple would use Qualcomm's chips. Apple could turn to Intel, which could develop proprietary tech to replace the Qualcomm chips, though this is purely speculative.