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Verizon gets serious about 5G: Testing imminent in 11 U.S. locations

Why it matters to you

Testing is a major step forward toward getting exponentially faster data speeds in the hands of customers.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, AT&T announced it would begin testing fixed residential 5G in Austin, Texas, during the first half of 2017. Not to be outdone, Verizon said today it expects to launch “pre-commercial” 5G service for homes and offices in 11 cities over the next four months.

The carrier first laid out its goals for 5G deployment at last year’s Mobile World Congress, but now Verizon has given specific markets and a time frame for the roll out. Service will land in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; Bernardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Sacramento, California; Seattle, Washington, and Washington, D.C. by the middle of the year, according to the company, and will be modeled on the specifications determined by Verizon’s 5G Technical Forum.

More: AT&T gets serious about 5G with the deployment of test networks in Austin and Indianapolis

The latter point is important to note, because a universal 5G standard does not exist yet. AT&T said it expects to reach download speeds of 400Mbps initially with its implementation, improving to 1Gbps by the end of the year. The carrier reported that it achieved 14Gbps in a test in early 2016, the equivalent of downloading a 15GB file in nine seconds.

Verizon, on the other hand, has not stated what speeds users of the experimental new service can expect when it launches in pilot markets in the coming months. In its announcement, the company says it is closely working with its Technical Forum partners Qualcomm, Intel, Ericsson, and Samsung, as well as peers in the telecommunications industry in Canada, Japan, and South Korea, to work toward a global standard.

While 5G isn’t expected to launch in earnest until 2020, Verizon notes in a video accompanying the news release that the company is still advancing its LTE technology in the meantime. And they’re not the only ones: on Tuesday, Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon X20 modem, capable of 1.2Gbps download and 150Mbps upload over existing infrastructure.