Verizon to Start Fixed 5G Customer Trials in April
Verizon said Wednesday that it will start work on fixed 5G customer tests with partner Samsung in several markets in April.
This makes it likely that Verizon will be the first operator in the US -- or the world, in fact -- to offer friendly customers a taste of 5G. The operator has said that the fixed service will deliver speeds of more than 1 Gbit/s over the air, making it more cost-effective than fiber. (See Verizon Cleared for Take-Off on Fixed 5G.)
Samsung tells Light Reading that the tests are purely focused on fixed wireless at the moment. The tests will take place in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington, D.C., with a fifth location in Michigan starting trials later in the second quarter. The various locations will help to test varying terrain, neighborhood layouts and population density.
Verizon will use its own 5G radio specification for the test. Equipment from Samsung will include a customer premises (CPE) unit with an adjustable 28GHz antenna, network infrastructure and a core network.
In pre-commercial testing, which began in December 2016, Samsung said the "system demonstrated multi-gigabit throughputs at radio distances of up to 1,500 feet (500 meters) across each of the different environments selected for the customer trials."
That's just over a third of a mile. In theory, this means that Verizon could put up a 5G small cell about every two and a half blocks in Manhattan to provide fixed coverage. We don't know yet how many users on the network will be supported, but the customer trials will presumably help the operator learn more.
Being first to 5G -- albeit the fixed variety -- should help Verizon get some of its technical mojo back. It was first with 4G LTE but has subsequently faced tough rivalry in that field.
AT&T may not be far behind in 5G, however. It has said that it will have a fixed 5G trial for DirecTV customers in the first half of the year, although Verizon's announcement appears wider in scope and ambition.
The tests could be very significant for Samsung's network business, too. If the tests translate into commercial service it could mean a large multi-year contract with America's largest wireless provider.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading