Verizon Poised to Field Test 5G Wireless (with a slight redefinition of “5G” of course)

by Matt Klassen on September 10, 2015

Verizon stands poised to be the first wireless carrier to begin field trails on fifth generation, or 5G, wireless technology, Roger Gurnani, the company’s chief information and technology architect, said in an interview last week. Not only that, but Big Red anticipates “some level of commercial deployment” as soon as 2017, several years earlier than the 2020 time frame most have pegged for the initial adoption of the next generation wireless technology to begin.

Verizon stands as the first carrier to begin to seriously invest in 5G technology, taking the first steps towards what will undoubtedly be yet another radical paradigm shift in the technology world in general, and wireless service in particular. Just as 4G fuelled a drive towards smartphone adoption and the proliferation of mobile services, so 5G will undoubtedly have it’s own (yet undefined) revolution as well.

But if you’re wondering how Verizon will be able to get its own 5G wireless technology to market years before the anticipated arrival data, it will probably come as little surprise that the actual arrival of 5G technology all depends on your definition of “5G” itself. While the wireless world has promised a 5G network sporting speeds 60 to 100 times faster (or more) than what 4G offers, Verizon’s own 5G will clock in significantly slower, meaning what we will likely see in 2017 is not 5G as it was promised, but something akin to 4G+…better for sure, just not great.

Of course they’ll call it 5G and we’ll believe it’s 5G, and that’s all that really matters to carriers in the lawless world of wireless.

I’ll say at the outset that we should have expected nothing less, as this is exactly the same sort of marketspeak, redefining of terms that we saw in the transition from 2G to 3G, and 3G to 4G. While there are global consortiums that have attempted to bring some sort of universal definition to these nebulous terms, the reality for consumers has always been that carriers define the next generation of wireless technology however they want (practically deploying words without meaning), and 5G is no different.

So just how fast is 5G? Verizon’s tests have achieved a connection speed that is roughly 30 to 50 times faster than current 4G network technology, and higher than the speeds reached through Google’s Fiber direct connection ultra-high speed broadband service. But while Verizon’s 5G is clearly faster than 4G, it’s already a disappointment in comparison to what the wireless world has promised us since 5G testing began.

Not only that, but carriers and researchers alike have been touting the world 5G technology will introduce, a world of instant access, of blazing video streams, and the ability to handle the multiple devices that make up our connected everything existence. While granted speed isn’t everything, there is yet no word on just how well Verizon’s 5G tech will handle all the rest of the futuristic wireless package we’ve been promised.

Granted Verizon isn’t the only one in the race towards 5G, as South Korean companies are pushing for a 2018 rollout, while other companies like ZTE tinker with pre-5G technologies. But again that raises the point, what is 5G really? If the definition is simply “faster than 4G,” I have no doubt Verizon will achieve a 2017 rollout; if it means a radical paradigm shift that will usher in a new age of wireless connectivity through blazing fast speeds and unimaginable performance….well we might have to wait for 6G for that.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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