Verizon will be the latest wireless provider to pilot 5G this year. The company announced Wednesday a plan to rollout the next-generation network to select customers in 11 cities across the U.S.
Seattle, Sacramento, and Denver will be among the initial cities to test the network, which will be launched in collaboration with partners Ericsson and Samsung Electronics. Select customers should expect to be able to test the network in the first half of 2017.
Verizon’s announcement follows similar steps by competitors. In January, AT&T announced plans to launch 5G in Austin and Indianapolis this year, and Bellevue-based T-Mobile has also outlined its vision for the potential of a 5G network.
5G promises to be at least 10 times faster than the existing 4G networks and companies such as Verizon and AT&T have detailed plans on how to take that beyond cellphones. In Wednesday’s announcement, Verizon said this was the first step in using a 5G wireless connection to bring gigabit broadband to homes.
“5G technology innovation is rapidly evolving,” said Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s vice president of network planning, in a statement. “Network density is increasing to meet the demands of customers, and following the FCC’s aggressive action on 5G spectrum, the time is right to deliver the next generation of broadband services with 5G.”
The 5G network, however, still faces some hurdles. In Washington state, for example, legislators are working to introduce a bill to address safety and permitting concerns about the shift away from 4G. Meanwhile, cable giants such as Comcast and CenturyLink are introducing faster gigabit broadband to compete with wireless service providers. Google Fiber is also working to expand its wireless internet network with Webpass.
Verizon’s 5G service is still in the “pre-commercial” stage, though, and won’t focus on bringing 5G to the home or office just yet. The company didn’t give a timeline on when general customers can plan to see the service.