Verizon announces 'accelerated' 5G trials and launch

Verizon has announced that it will be moving to have its 5G network ready by the end of 2019 with ecosystem partner Qualcomm, with the latter calling the timeline 'aggressive but possible'.

United States carrier Verizon has announced that it will be moving to accelerate its 5G New Radio (NR) field trials with a goal of launching its next-generation networks in 2019 alongside partners Qualcomm and Novatel Wireless.

"We have a tremendous excitement around 5G, and today we made a great announcement to our commitment of driving the 5G ecosystem," Verizon SVP Atish Gude said at the Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong on Tuesday morning.

"Specifically with Qualcomm and ecosystem partners like Novatel, we made a commitment to really drive with you accelerated field trials and an accelerated commercial launch, and that just shows our commitment to 5G NR millimetre-wave."

According to Cristiano Amon, executive VP of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT), Qualcomm will have a standard compliant product by 2019, while Ericsson head of Networks for North East Asia Luca Orsini said Ericsson expects to have a full 5G portfolio by H2 2019.

"By 2019, we'll make 5G NR a reality ... we will be ready," Amon said during his keynote on Tuesday.

"We are starting with a number of trials ... we're starting now in this second half of 2017, and we have prototype systems that is actually allowing trials and testing in both sub-6[GHz] and millimetre-wave, as we get ready for this timeline -- aggressive but possible timeline -- for 5G leadership in 2019.

"We're looking forward to working with Verizon to launch 5G NR."

The 5G NR over-the-air field trials will make use of 3GPP Release 15 specifications in the 28GHz and 39GHz millimetre-wave (mmWave) bands, which Qualcomm and Verizon said would support "full-scale commercial network deployment before the end of the decade".

"Verizon's investment in mmWave spectrum has given us the flexibility to pursue a first-of-its-kind fixed-wireless broadband customer trial, which has been invaluable in advancing our expertise in the deployment of mmWave technology," Verizon Technology Strategy and Planning SVP Ed Chan added.

"With the collaboration we're announcing today, we are taking the next logical step towards extending our leadership position in the advancement of 5G, part of the Verizon Intelligent Edge Network."

The trials will begin in 2018, and will also involve Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology, adaptive beam forming and beam tracking techniques, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G NR mobile modem chipset -- across which Qualcomm earlier on Tuesday announced achieving a multi-gigabit 5G data connection.

Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon X50 -- the world's first commercial 5G modem chipset solution -- at last year's 4G/5G Summit, with the modem family to be made commercially available during the first half of 2019.

In June, Verizon told ZDNet that one of the "key" parts of 5G is interoperability, with the carrier working not only with Qualcomm and Ericsson but also with Cisco, Samsung, Intel, LG, and Nokia to roll out its pre-commercial 5G trial networks across the US.

"Interoperability ... is very key," Verizon senior solutions architect Chris Painter told ZDNet. "It's going to be a multi-vendor solution, so we need to have that interoperability."

Painter confirmed to ZDNet that Verizon's remaining 10 pre-commercial 5G trial networks -- in Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Sacramento, California; Seattle, Washington; Washington DC; Bernardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; and Denver, Colorado -- will be deployed before the end of 2017.

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong as a guest of Qualcomm

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