Large parts of this country are still languishing with cable internet speeds that give them 10 megabits down. So it’s equal parts absurd and awesome that Verizon is actively making plans to bring gigabit speeds — 100 times faster than cheap cable internet — to cellphones nationwide.
The announcement of gigabit speeds came as part of a wider Verizon announcement of its plans for 5G. The next gen of wireless technology is still some way off — the FCC only recently outlined the regulatory framework — but mobile carriers are already rushing to be the first players in the next big thing.
In its press release today, Verizon announced that it has finalized its radio specifications for 5G, and is now conducting pre-commercial trials. What that means to normal people is that it has nailed down the frequencies and protocols it will use for 5G, something Verizon rightly describes as a “key milestone.”
Those specifications are now being put to the test “in multiple locations in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Texas.” Pre-commercial trials is the first kind of testing in the field: Verizon says it’s experimenting with its 5G spec in different kinds, sizes and constructions of buildings to start to understand how the radios will work in real-world conditions.
Make no mistake, 5G is still a long, long way away. Regulatory hurdles have to be cleared, device manufacturers have to get on board, and the people who claim that Wi-Fi gives them headaches will probably have to be appeased.
But if we get anything close to what Verizon is promising in real-world speeds, sometime in the next decade, I’ll chalk this one up as a success.