Verizon Moves Ahead With 5G Specs

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There's been a lot of buzz about what 5G can do—power smart cities, provide gigabit speeds—but the actual technology behind 5G has mostly been a hodgepodge of field trials and oneupmanship among US wireless carriers, chip makers, and even the FCC, with specs relatively hard to come by.

Verizon changed that today by announcing it has completed its 5G radio specification. It tells the company's partners—everyone from smartphone makers to the contractors that maintain its network—exactly what they'll have to do to build, maintain, and offer devices that play nice with Verizon's 5G network.

To develop the specification, Verizon sought input from a group of partners, including Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung. They created a platform for Verizon's 28/39 GHz fixed wireless access trials, which have been ongoing since last fall. Because they're oriented towards current trials, the standards could be revised before 5G goes live for consumers, something Verizon says it intends to accomplish as early as next year.

"The completion of the 5G radio specification is a key milestone toward the development of a complete 5G specification," Adam Koeppe, Verizon's vice president of network technology planning, said in a statement. "The level of collaboration that we are seeing exceeds what we saw during 4G. This agile way of developing the specification and working with the ecosystem will enable us to get to market rapidly."

While Verizon may have a head start on publishing 5G specs, other carriers, which are mostly partnering with the same companies Verizon works with, aren't far behind. AT&T expanded its 5G trials with Nokia last, month, and T-Mobile also plans to start tests with Nokia later this year.

Meanwhile, European carriers are trying to get the EU to jumpstart 5G development there by prodding its communications agencies to promise dedicated spectrum, something the FCC did in the US last month.

"The success of 5G will depend on EU-wide scale support, with member states acting coherently—whether in regard to licensing, providing appropriate state support...or directing early public sector participation," according to a "5G manifesto" that a coalition of nearly 20 stakeholders—including Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia, and Vodafone—sent to the European Commission this week.

In addition to urging support for new spectrum, the group also expressed concerns that Europe's strict net neutrality rules could make them "risk-averse" to investing in 5G.

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