Verizon will soon offer a preview of what 5G will feel like when the networking standard becomes more widespread. The wireless provider says it's testing out 5G connectivity on select customers in 11 markets by middle of 2017 with an eye toward seeing how 5G will work in the real world.
5G is the next-generation wireless standard that's promising gigabit wireless speeds, or up to 1,000 times the speed of the 4G LTE you're currently getting on your smartphone. Or at least, that's the theory since no one has agreed on a standard for 5G yet, and it's not expected to be commercially available until 2020.
Still, that's not stopping carriers from experimenting with 5G, and Verizon is the latest to dip its toe into the water. This test will be available to "select customers" — Verizon isn't saying how many — in the following metropolitan areas:
- Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Bernardsville, NJ
- Brockton, Mass.
- Sacramento, Calif.
- Washington D.C.
Verizon's tests will deliver gigabit broadband services to homes and offices in those cities. Samsung, which is partnering with Verizon on the 5G rollout in five U.S. metro areas, says the trials will be used to "gauge user experiences, evaluate the performance of 5G technologies, and help streamline the delivery of mmWave 5G across various environments."
Carriers and equipment makers are both bullish on 5G's potential. While it won't be available to wireless customers for a few years, the technology promises much faster speeds and bandwidth than current 4G connections. It will also be able to span farther distances than 4G.
While 5G will offer faster connectivity for smartphones, arguably its most important function will be to facilitate the operation of self-driving cars and Internet of Things devices. 5G promises exceedingly low latency, allowing smart cars to communicate with each other and react to changing driving conditions more quickly than humans, ultimately improving safety on the road.
Verizon isn't the only carrier working on 5G. Earlier this year, AT&T announced plans to launch "5G Evolution Markets" in Austin, Texas, and Indianapolis. AT&T is also testing DirecTV Now stream over 5G in Austin. Sprint and T-Mobile have talked up their 5G plans as well.