Verizon will soon begin lab tests of elements that might go into 5G, the next generation of cellular technology, and plans to start field trials next year.
A 5G standard is not expected until 2020, but mobile operators in some countries, including Japan and South Korea, have already started trials of technologies that might go into it.
Verizon sees some of the same kinds of goodness coming from 5G as others do: 50 times the network throughput of 4G LTE, lower latency and the capability to handle more devices, including the so-called "Internet of Things." Very high "millimeter-wave" frequencies are expected to help make those breakthroughs possible.
The carrier is setting up indoor "sandbox" lab environments at its Innovation Centers in Waltham, Mass., and San Francisco, where mobile vendors will work together on parts of what may become standard 5G technology. Ericsson, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm, Samsung and Cisco are already working with Verizon on 5G.
Asia, Europe and North America all want to play a role in the development of 5G, which is expected to be approved in 2020 by the 3GPP, the same organization that signed off on 4G LTE. U.S. carriers got LTE rolling on a large scale, led by Verizon's launch of that technology in 39 metropolitan areas in December 2010.
In the run-up to 5G, some European players are trying to make sure that region plays a significant role in the standard's development. And some in the mobile world have already jumped into the fray by testing potential elements of the emerging standard. NTT DoCoMo plans to have a commercial network up and running at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and earlier this year joined with Nokia to demonstrate some of what it expects to use into that network. Samsung has said it will develop 5G technology with South Korean operator LG U+ with a goal of commercial deployment in 2020.
Verizon started out the same way with 4G as it is now with 5G. It established the two innovation centers to help develop a 4G ecosystem with vendor partners, and in 2008 set up a "sandbox" network of 10 cells around Boston. The carrier's innovation centers include facilities such as a room sealed off from the surrounding airwaves where equipment that uses new frequencies can be tested.