5g 5G could even make Google Fiber look slow ...
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5G could even make Google Fiber look slow …

Early tests of Verizon‘s 5G technology show that it can achieve connection speeds 30-50 times faster than 4G/LTE – above the speeds offered by Google Fiber’s gigabit wired broadband. Even better, the company expects to have “some level of commercial deployment” by 2017, some three years earlier than expected, reports CNET.

To put that speed difference into perspective, the movie Guardians of the Galaxy would take around six minutes to download over a good LTE connection – while 5G would have it downloaded to your device in just 15 seconds … 

There is, of course, a big difference between beginning commercial deployment with a select number of clients and you or I being able to get our hands on all that tasty, tasty bandwidth. There will also be the usual chicken-and-egg situation with faster data speeds: carriers waiting until there are enough devices capable of using it before they make it widely available, and manufacturers like Apple waiting until the network capacity is sufficiently widespread to make it worth adding to devices.

But Verizon does look to be upping the pace, moving tests out of the lab and into the field during the next 12 months. That could encourage others to speed up their own plans. South Korea had been expected to be first to launch, with a trial 5G network in place for the Winter Olympics in 2018, Japan aiming for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

“It’s a very aggressive timeline,” said Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer of telecommunications equipment supplier Ericsson. “It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is.”

Trials have so far been limited to Verizon’s own innovation centers in Waltham, Massachusetts, and San Francisco. It will need the government to release more radio spectrum before it can go beyond field tests.

For technical trials themselves, we have what we need,” said Roger Gurnani, chief information and technology architect for Verizon. “Beyond that, 5G will require big bands of spectrum.”

Apple generally adopts a wait-and-see policy with new technology, having waited until the iPhone 5 in 2012 before adding LTE capabilities to its iPhones – almost two years after carriers began offering the faster connection speeds. It did, however, move more swiftly with LTE Advanced (LTE-A), adding support for the 150Mbit/s fast-track LTE service in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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