We’re a Lot Closer to 5G Deployment Than You Realize
On Sunday, as the world was watching the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl LII (that’s the single greatest phrase I’ve ever had the opportunity to type, by the way), Verizon and its counterpart in Korea conducted some very under-the-radar testing of its 5G network. And the results were as impressive as you’d think. And it also showed just how close we might be to full 5G deployment.
Three things in particular should stand out about the successful test:
- 5G-ready hardware was involved. To actually test the capabilities of the 5G network, 5G-ready hardware had to be involved. And, as it turns out, there was a ton of it. For the test, Samsung said it developed 5G tablets that were able to deliver “multi-gigabit per second speeds” on 5G, top 4G LTE speeds, and proper switching between 5G and 4G networks. Additionally, because of the fact that multiple carriers were involved, additional hardware was needed, including 28GHz 5G access units and home routers, which suggest that consumer-ready products are closer to being ready than anyone previously was aware of. And we already know that other phone and hardware manufactures—like Apple, for example—have been granted access to work and test future product on these 5G networks.
- Multiple cities were involved in the test. Slightly less important than the hardware aspect, but still crucial, is the fact that multiple cities were involved with this test. Verizon, using an area within U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis (where the Super Bowl was played) was able to make a 5G video call to Seoul, South Korea. Additionally, to display the possibilities of extremely high bandwidth and low latency that 5G will offer, Verizon streamed live, 180-degree stereoscopic video from the field in Minneapolis to VR headsets in New York City. That demo reportedly required multiple 4K and HD video streams over their 5G network.
- Tests were considered highly successful and impressive. To understand this final point, just reread that last sentence above. Verizon was able to apparently stream multiple 4K and HD video feeds over their 5G network to VR headsets in a different city. With the international video call, it was described as the “first-ever 5G video call on prototype 5G tablets.” And the call was completed in high quality with no disruptions. The promise of 5G is that it will be able to increase data transfer speeds 10 to 100 times faster than today’s standard 4G/LTE connections, reduce latency to around one millisecond, improve security over the network, and dramatically increase the reliability of the network with the stress of a large number of connected devices (i.e. sporting events).
So, Super Bowl Sunday saw a big win for Philadelphia from a sports perspective. But it also brought a major win for the future of 5G. It’s widely believed that a full-scale 5G deployment will happen in either 2019 or 2020, though Verizon has said it could have its offering ready by this year. Either way, testing will continue (including at the PyongChang Olympics this month), and we’ll sit here very impatiently awaiting 5G’s arrival.