Look for Verizon to start pre-commercial trials of 5G in the first quarter of 2017. While speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York today, CEO Lowell McAdam said the trials would occur in smaller towns and will use the company’s pre-5G specification gear.
McAdam added the company won’t be charging for the service but instead will be looking for performance data.
He also hinted about Verizon’s plans for 5G. He said that he refers to 5G as “wireless fiber,” because early 5G will not be mobile.
Verizon thinks 5G will fill the gap between where the home WiFi begins and the fiber ends, which McAdam said could be anywhere from 200 feet to 1,000 feet. “Our plan is to offer 1-Gb/s broadband service … and then offer an over-the-top bundle,” he said.
Early 5G Standard
McAdam also said he believes operator interest in 5G is so high that standards bodies like the 3GPP and International Telecommunications Union (ITU) may accelerate the process making it possible for a final 5G standard to be available in 2019 instead of 2020.
McAdam said that much of what will happen with 5G is dependent upon the standards and that everyone expects a final specification to be available in 2020. “I think it might be a year earlier than that,” he said. “There’s a lot more interest around those standards at this point.”
Of course, for that to happen the ITU will have to release the final standard, known as the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT)-2020, earlier than anticipated. The 3GPP submits proposed specifications to the ITU to be part of the IMT-2020, and it has a fairly rigid set of deadlines for making its recommendations.
Verizon released its own 5G specifications to vendors last summer, which the company said was intended to help vendors develop interoperable 5G equipment for pre-standard testing and fabrication. Verizon has said that its goal is to collaborate with vendors on early specifications and then contribute those to the 3GPP.
But Verizon isn’t alone in pushing for an early 5G standard. AT&T has been pressuring the 3GPP to release the first part of its 5G Release 15 specification between December 2017 and March 2018 as opposed to the original timeline of June 2018. The portion of the 5G specification that AT&T wants released is specifically geared toward non-standalone New Radio (NR).
In an earlier talk with UBS, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, also said that AT&T is trying to push 5G services to be deployed as quickly as possible. “By the end of this decade, you’ll be seeing all kinds of services turned up,” he said. “We’re all going to be kind of in a push to bring that forward as much as possible. We’re trying to get standards set.”
Earnings call transcript provided by Seeking Alpha.