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If You Want 5G Network Speeds, Switch to This Carrier Soon

By Chris Neiger - Feb 28, 2016 at 10:41AM

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Verizon is leading the pack in 5G tests.

Verizon Communications (VZ 0.81%) is already making waves in the 5G world. I've written about some of the details about Verizon's 5G ambitions here, but here's the gist of it:

  • Verizon started testing the next-generation of wireless networks at its headquarters at the end of 2015.
  • The company says 5G could be 200 times faster than its its average 4G LTE network speeds.
  • The carrier wants to be the first to deploy 5G in the U.S., just as it was first to deploy 4G technology.
  • 5G standards aren't even set yet, so we're taking about 5G really loosely here until 3GPP sets definitive standards later this year.
  • The carrier isn't going alone in all these tests. Cisco Systems, Samsung, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Intel and others are all part of the research.

But Verizon shed some new light on its 5G ambitions a little more this week, when it revealed that its 5G tests hit 10 Gbps speeds. To put that in perspective, T-Mobile (TMUS 0.82%) currently has the fastest 4G LTE speeds in the U.S., with an average speed of 12.3 Mbps. T-Mobile would need to increase its speeds by eight times just to match one-tenth of the speed that Verizon just tested. Put another way, Verizon's 5G test speeds are 10 times faster than Google Fiber Internet speeds. So yeah, it's pretty fast. 

The carrier also reiterated in a recent blog post that commercial 5G connections will be available as early as next year.

These are just tests, of course, and it's not as if Verizon's competition isn't moving into the space as well. AT&T (T 0.77%) recently said that it's testing 5G as well, and T-Mobile said last week that it's working on its own 5G tests, too.

AT&T and T-Mobile are slightly behind Verizon's 5G push right now, but it's still early in the game. Verizon is the only one to lay out any type of timeline right now, but I'd be surprised if T-Mobile and AT&T didn't start giving preliminary rollout dates sometime soon. 

Why all the fighting over 5G?
Nearly all of the U.S. carriers offer comparable 4G LTE coverage right now, as well as adequate LTE speeds (though we fall behind the rest of the world). 5G is the next frontier for these carriers and none of them want to be left behind. 

Verizon is flexing its network muscle by being the first U.S. carrier to test 5G, and has even set up its own alliance with other global carriers to help push along the technology. But even with its progress, a 2017 rollout is aggressive. After all, 5G standards won't be determined until later this year. For the carrier to roll out 5G to its customers on a mass scale next year would be nearly impossible. Instead, it's likely Verizon will have a handful of 5G markets in 2017, with more expansion in 2018. 

But if there's one thing that's clear, it's that Verizon is leading the 5G network pack, and if it continues at this pace it'll be the first U.S. carrier with 5G connections. 

Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Verizon Communications. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Verizon Communications Inc. Stock Quote
Verizon Communications Inc.
$45.04 (0.81%) $0.36
AT&T Inc. Stock Quote
AT&T Inc.
$18.24 (0.77%) $0.14
T-Mobile US, Inc. Stock Quote
T-Mobile US, Inc.
$146.78 (0.82%) $1.20

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