Verizon, Vodafone, Others Team Up for 'Interoperable' 5G Specs



A half dozen major global operators announced the formation of the 5G Future Forum to "collaborate to develop interoperable 5G specifications across key geographic regions." América Móvil, KT, Rogers, Telstra, Verizon and Vodafone are the group's founding members.

"The 5G Future Forum will focus on the creation of uniform interoperability specifications to improve speed to market for developers and multinational enterprises working on 5G-enabled solutions," Verizon stated in a brief release announcing the formation of the association. "In addition, Forum participants will develop public and private marketplaces to enhance developer and customer access to 5G, and will share global best practices in technology deployment."

Verizon representatives declined to comment beyond the group's press release. It's not clear how the group might interact with similar standards efforts in the global wireless industry. Groups working in similar areas range from the 3GPP to ATIS to the NGMN.

A Verizon rep said the group would be similar to Verizon's 5G Technology Forum (5GTF) that the operator formed in 2015 with vendors Ericsson, Qualcomm, Intel, LG, Cisco and Samsung. That group developed the 5GTF transmission standard that Verizon used for the initial launch of its 5G Home fixed wireless Internet service. Verizon scrapped that effort last year and is moving forward with 3GPP-capable equipment for its 5G Home service. Operator executives have said that Verizon's 5GTF work helped the operator move more quickly into the 5G arena in general and fixed wireless services specifically.

Team-ups and exclusions
The members of the new 5G Future Forum already have plenty of things in common. For example, Verizon and Vodafone are already teaming up in edge computing with Amazon's AWS. They are among the first operators to officially support the cloud computing vendor's Wavelength 5G edge computing service, introduced late last year.

Separately, América Móvil's US MVNO, TracFone, heavily uses Verizon's network for its various prepaid brands in the US, which stretch from Straight Talk to Simple Mobile.

And Verizon has often highlighted its corporate ties to South Korean operators including KT in the past.

Finally, as VentureBeat pointed out, there are no Chinese operators in the 5G Future Forum, despite the fact that China Mobile itself could rack up as many as 100 million 5G customers this year. That probably doesn't come as much of a surprise though given the increasingly heated debate over the role of China and Chinese suppliers like Huawei in the global move toward 5G technology.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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