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Verizon kicks off wireless 5G testing in the U.S.

Nationwide 4G LTE has been available in the U.S. for more than a year now, offering up to 100 Mbps in speed. However, Verizon wants to push the wireless industry to even faster speeds. On Monday at Mobile World Congress, Verizon announced that it has begun testing a 5G network in the United States.

The carrier has partnered with a number of telecom firms including Intel, Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and Qualcomm. An entire faux home was constructed to test reception in the same type of environments consumers will use it in, with the same type of devices. In the above video, Verizon taxes the network with a number of 4K TVs, all streaming video at once, as well as a number of other business and personal devices, all in the same area.

5G networks are capable of reaching speeds of 1Gbps and feature a vast array of improvements to latency, coverage, and efficiency over 4G LTE. Verizon chief information and technology architect, Roger Gurnani, told CNet that the 5G network will be capable of faster speeds than Google Fiber. That’s a bold claim, since Google Fiber is seriously speedy. Gurani also said that Verizon’s tests show that 5G is 30 to 50 times faster than the current U.S. 4G network.

In real-life use cases, 5G wireless should be able to download Guardians of the Galaxy in 15 seconds, compared to the 6 minutes it takes on 4G LTE, according to Gurnani. Streaming video, loading large images and animations, as well as playing online games will all be enhanced with 5G wireless. Of course, Verizon could decide to impose heavy data caps to limit how much 5G data customers use.

One exciting potential use is to have surgeons perform operations across the country using integrated robotics. The Internet of Things is another market bound to be enhanced by faster wireless speeds. Even though the smart home devices will be connected to home broadband, the mobile is expected to be the hub and must be able to communicate on wireless or broadband.

While the results so far are promising, this is just an early trial for the new connectivity standard, and that it will be some time still until we can expect it to be commercially available for the rest of us. Early estimates suggest it could arrive at some point in 2017.

5G wireless is currently being tested in South Korea, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. South Korea was the first to begin testing of the new network standard in 2008, and the U.K. followed suit with its own research facility in 2012. So far, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have no plans to test 5G wireless in the U.S. before 2017.

Updated on 02-23-2016 by Jon Martindale

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