There's going to be a race to 5G, and Verizon is about to get moving. Verizon said this morning that it plans to begin testing 5G wireless technology next year, with "some level of commercial deployment" planned for 2017, according to CNET. Verizon isn't saying exactly when it sees a multitude of its subscribers connected to a 5G network, but it suggests that'll happen within the next five years. Verizon intends to continue building out its LTE network in the meantime.
The "expected benefits" of 5G may be very different from the actual benefits
The next question that Verizon will have to answer is what it actually means by 5G. In a press release, Verizon says that it sees 5G as offering "50 times the throughput of current 4G LTE, latency in the single milliseconds, and the ability to handle exponentially more Internet-connected devices." Of course, those are the "expected benefits" of 5G; Verizon hasn't even started testing the service yet, and chances are good that 5G will look very different out in the real world. But at a very basic level, it's still going to mean faster data speeds, which will be an important hook for consumers and a big help for streaming services.
Verizon's initial 5G tests will take place at two of its research labs. There it'll be working with Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm, Cisco, Ericsson, and Alcatel-Lucent on the technologies needed to support 5G's faster data speeds — eventually, new technology is going to be needed everywhere from the cell tower to the inside of smartphones. Last time around, when Verizon was working on 4G, the carrier says it took about two years before it began a commercial deployment. That may make 2017 an aggressive timeline for beginning commercial deployment of 5G, but Verizon's language suggests that 2017 will barely be the start.