If you're on the lookout for 5G, you'll be waiting a bit more time to get your hands on it. But Verizon has a promising stop-gap solution between now and then.
Verizon, Ericsson, and Qualcomm this week announced plans to deploy a technology called Massive MIMO across the company's network in 2018. Massive MIMO (Multiple Input - Multiple Output) uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 chip with the X20 LTE component relying on Transmission Mode 9. That, coupled with Ericsson's technology in towers, provides dramatically faster speeds and bandwidth for Verizon's 4G LTE network.
“Massive MIMO is a critical component of our 4G LTE Advancements and will play an important role in 5G technology that will result in single digit latency and scalability in the billions of connections,” Verizon chief network engineer and head of wireless networks Nicola Palmer said in a statement.
Massive MIMO is only available when both the device and the network support the aforementioned Transmission Mode 9. That technology uses "beamforming schemes" that communicate between the network and devices to improve speeds and bandwidth. Verizon didn't say how fast its network speeds will be with Massive MIMO, but Qualcomm suggested that they "push the limits of LTE" and should provide a smooth transition to 5G.
Future 5G technology, which Verizon is also testing, should deliver speeds of 1Gbps. Verizon peak download speeds over 4G LTE are 50Mbps.
Verizon has been testing Massive MIMO in Irvine, Calif. Now that it's been successfully trialled, the company anticipates expanding it across its network next year. The companies said that devices that can support Massive MIMO will also start launching in the first half of 2018.
But before you get too excited, be aware that a relatively small number of handsets will actually support the technology at first. The Snapdragon 845 will likely be available on the Samsung Galaxy S9 first and then will come to other Android-based handsets throughout the year. And since Apple uses its own chip technology and not Snapdragon, there's a good chance that the next iPhones won't support Verizon's technology.