CES 2019: Verizon showcases the potential of 5G with drones, Disney and more

5G connectivity will be "a quantum leap compared to 4G," Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said during his CES keynote.

There was little new to learn about Verizon's 5G offerings on the CES keynote stage Wednesday night, but Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg promised that the new technology will dramatically impact all aspects of the economy.

5G connectivity, Vestberg said, will be "a quantum leap comopared to 4G." Prove that, he shared the CES stage with a diverse set of industry partners, including the New York Times, Walt Disney Studios, the medical technology company Medivis and the Verizon-owned drone operation company Skyward.

Each partner spoke of how 5G will transform their business. For instance, Verizon is partnering with Walt Disney's StudioLab to explore how next-generation connectivity can improve Disney's content production and transmission. Meanwhile, Skyward President Mariah Scott said that Verizon is committed to being the first to connect 1 million drone flights on its 5G network.

To expand its network of partners, Vestberg announced Verizon is launchinng a 5G innovation challenge, offering up to $1 million in seed money for the best applications of the technology.

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While Verizon and other telecoms have hailed the arrival of 5G for some time, their definitions of the technology don't always line up with one another. Verizon last October said it launched "the world's first commercial 5G service" with 5G Home, a fixed wireless service for residential customers. It offers theoretical peak throughput speeds of 1Gbps.

During the keynote, Vestberg called Clayton Harris of Houston, Texas, the first 5G Home customer. Harris ran a speed test from his home, reaching 690 Mbps. He said he normally sees between 600 Mbps and 1 Gbps, with speeds at times reaching as high as 1.3 Gbps.

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