Verizon sets roadmap to 5G technology in U.S.; Field trials to start in 2016

David Samberg
Verizon Wireless
T. 908-559-6387
Company will partner with technology leaders to create innovation ecosystems in two Verizon innovation centers

NEW YORK – Verizon – the first company to introduce 4G LTE, or fourth-generation long-term evolution, wireless network technology about six years ago – is once again poised to usher in a new era with an aggressive roadmap for fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless technology.

By nearly all accounts, 5G technology should be introduced in the U.S. sometime after 2020, but Verizon is accelerating the expected rate of innovation. By working closely with key partners, Verizon aims to launch field technology trials next year.

Verizon’s plan:

  • Verizon, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung kicked-off the inaugural Verizon 5G Technology Forum last month, and have established working teams to ensure an aggressive pace of innovation.  
  • 5G network environments, or “sandboxes,” are being created in Verizon’s Waltham, Mass., and San Francisco Innovation Centers. Just like in the early days of the development of 4G LTE technology, collaborating in a shared environment will foster compelling applications faster.
  • Verizon and its partners are committed to beginning technology field trials in 2016. 

“5G is no longer a dream of the distant future,” said Roger Gurnani, executive vice president and chief information and technology architect for Verizon. “We feel a tremendous sense of urgency to push forward on 5G and mobilize the ecosystem by collaborating with industry leaders and developers to usher in a new generation of innovation.”

The expected benefits of 5G, as described during Verizon’s inaugural forum, include about 50 times the throughput of current 4G LTE, latency in the single milliseconds, and the ability to handle exponentially more Internet-connected devices to accommodate the expected explosion of the Internet of Everything.

“When you’re planning a technological evolution at this scale it must be a collaboration of players in the ecosystem,” said Marcus Weldon, chief technology officer of Alcatel-Lucent and president of Bell Labs. “Having Verizon initiate this effort now, even as 4G LTE technology has so much headroom left, will no doubt add to the rich fabric of our digital lives for many years to come.”

The Verizon-led effort keeps the communications industry in the U.S. vibrant and globally competitive, explained Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer for Ericsson. “A lot of development and requirements for 5G networks have so far come from Asian operators,” she said. “It’s exciting to see a U.S. company accelerate the rate of innovation and introduce new partners.”

In addition to working with communications and technology leaders, Verizon’s 5G Technology Forum also includes a group of leading east- and west-coast venture capital groups focused on a variety of emerging technologies.

“Each partner is a leader, but together we represent more than $50 billion in annual research, development and technology investments and thousands of patents,” Gurnani said. “Collectively we are bringing to bear an incredible amount of resources and intellectual capital to introduce the next generation of wireless technology.”

Building networks for the future unleashes innovation

From the beginning, the possibilities of 4G LTE were as great as the imaginations of the developers, engineers and entrepreneurs who began immediately putting their ideas into action.  The Verizon Innovation program was created, and Innovations Centers were opened in Waltham and San Francisco, with the mission of encouraging the growth and development of the 4G LTE ecosystem. Innovators from around the world worked with Verizon wireless experts to test their ideas and quickly get them to market.

And the market grew quickly. Verizon began building and testing 4G LTE as early as 2008 with the creation of a 10-cell network sandbox around Boston. The first LTE data call was made in August 2009, and Verizon commercially launched the nation’s first, and the world’s largest, 4G LTE network in December 2010 with 39 major metropolitan areas and more than 60 major airports covered.  

Today, more than 98 percent of the U.S. population has access to 4G LTE and 87 percent of Verizon Wireless data traffic is carried over the network.

Verizon has long been committed to leading the way in network innovation and reliability. Earlier this summer, the National RootScore® Report, conducted by RootMetrics, found that Verizon customers enjoy the most reliable and strongest network performance overall, from Maine to California and in between the Canadian and Mexican borders. This marked the fourth consecutive time Verizon’s wireless network has been acknowledged as the leader in overall performance among national wireless service providers in the U.S. by RootMetrics, an independent third party.

In addition, for the second consecutive time, Verizon ranked the highest of all U.S. wireless providers, according to the J.D. Power 2015 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study℠, Volume 2. Verizon's network performance was higher than the industry average in all three quality categories: calling, messaging and data.

“Even as Verizon begins the work to make 5G a reality, we continue to grow 4G LTE,” Gurnani added. “In addition to significant multi-billion-dollar investments in the network, we continue to work with a growing list of partners to launch new products and services on the nation’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network.”