With right around three years to go before the expected commercial release of 5G connectivity, this next generation communications advance has users already on pins and needles waiting for the improved connections to start. Verizon (News - Alert) is moving along nicely on this front, meanwhile, and has already prepared 10 5G market trials throughout the United States.
The plan to test these new next generation communications installations is targeted to both major urban centers as well as more suburban locales, areas beyond its normal footprint of incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) operations. The company will be expanding beyond those operations—mostly in the northeast so far—into other areas.
Verizon's plan, as noted on a fourth quarter earnings conference call by executive vice president and CFO Matt Ellis, is to test the system in a variety of different neighborhoods, a sort of microcosmic test of 5G's capabilities ahead of commercial launch. Using pre-specification gear, and developing its own specifications in response, Verizon plans to test the so-called “wireless fiber” system while various vendors work to develop new 5G equipment for both testing and fabrication ahead of completed standards.
Verizon has been hard at work developing this system, having recently put forth efforts to pick up XO Communications (News - Alert)—the deal is expected to close this quarter—to help provide the fiber and microwave wireless components required for the high-end backhaul needed to launch 5G. XO Communications' fiber assets and millimeter wave spectrum materials will go a long way in helping Verizon get the needed infrastructure in play to bring out 5G. Costs, not surprisingly, will be a major determining factor in how fast Verizon can bring out 5G access, and the testing will help provide needed data to get those figures in place.
Verizon is likely tired of suffering Sprint (News - Alert)'s commercials featuring its own former mascot Paul Marcarelli, also known as the “can you hear me now” guy, in which Sprint makes it clear that everyone's network reliability is within a gnat's whisker of each other in quality comparisons. In order to get Verizon out back in front on the next generation communications front, it has to actually bring out the next generation of communications technology, and that's 5G. With 5G in play, all of Marcarelli's commercials will be rendered suddenly invalid, and that has to be a goal Verizon is devoutly pursuing.
Commercial annoyances aside, Verizon likely would love to be first to market with 5G access. That's going to take a lot of work and planning to accomplish, though, as that's also a goal AT&T (News - Alert), T-Mobile and Sprint are likely all pursuing with equal alacrity. Verizon has pushed just a little closer on this front, and perhaps it won't take three years to go live commercially after all.