Verizon says it will offer pre-commercial 5G services to pilot customers in 11 markets by mid-year. Those markets include Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta; Bernardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Miami; Sacramento, California; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.
Verizon says its 5G pre-commercial network currently includes several hundred cell sites covering several thousand customer locations. The pilot markets will leverage technology that it has deployed in collaboration with its 5G Technology Forum partners.
A year ago Verizon formed the 5G Tech Forum with vendors such as Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Apple. The group’s goal was to collaborate on early 5G specs and contribute to the 3GPP 5G standard.
Verizon says that it expects 5G chipsets, infrastructure gear, and devices to be available soon that are based on the proposed 5G specs that the company released in June 2016.
But Verizon isn’t alone in its 5G pilots. AT&T said in January that it was working with Ericsson and Qualcomm to test technology based on the 3GPP’s 5G New Radio (NR) specification in the second half of this year. The tests will include over-the-air field trials and interoperability testing and are intended to accelerate the deployment of standards-compliant 5G NR gear and devices.
Ericsson has already said that its 5G-ready platform that includes radios in the 28 GHz spectrum will be available by year-end. Likewise, Qualcomm said yesterday that it has made its first successful 5G connection based upon the 3GPP’s 5G NR standard.
Last June, the 3GPP agreed on a working plan for Release 15 that included the development of the NR specification and said it anticipated that work would continue until June 2018.