Verizon today issued a press release announcing that it has finalized its 5G radio specifications. The leading US carrier describes this as a "key milestone" in the long journey to 5G, which will offer data speeds far beyond what 4G / LTE give us now. "Consumers will experience gigabits-per-second throughputs and single-millisecond latencies," according to Verizon. And yes, that's fast. But we're still a long way out from 5G becoming a reality on the devices we carry around every day, which makes Verizon's claims feel a little "first!"
The FCC only just began preparing for our 5G future. So far, carriers including Verizon have been conducting small field tests to demonstrate the kind of network performance that will be possible when all of this gets moving along for real. So what does a radio specification matter? At the very least, Verizon says it helps get everyone on the same page.
The specification provides guidelines to test and validate crucial 5G technical components. The development of the specification allows industry partners such as chipset vendors, network vendors, and mobile operators to develop interoperable solutions and contribute to pre-standard testing and fabrication.
Verizon's pre-commercial 5G tests are underway at locations in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Texas. "The level of collaboration that we are seeing exceeds what we saw during 4G," said Adam Koeppe, Verizon's VP of network technology planning. "This agile way of developing the specification and working with the ecosystem will enable us to get to market rapidly." The company included the below photo of a robot arm typing on a keyboard alongside today's press release. Because why not, and also to demonstrate 5G's low latency, I guess.
Verizon has promised it will be the first major US carrier to roll out 5G; the company's LTE network debuted in 2010, and the first smartphone to take advantage of those speeds (the HTC Thunderbolt) arrived a few months later. But others in the industry have scoffed at the idea of Verizon actually being able to deliver 5G at scale within the next couple years. T-Mobile US CEO John Legere — never one to use a filter — has blasted the claims as "pure horseshit." T-Mobile's CTO Neville Ray has estimated the 5G timeframe as something more like "2020+." AT&T is also conducting field tests this year, but isn't yet publicly saying when consumers can expect the technology.