Last week, Verizon Wireless had announced that it would start field testing its 5G wireless network by next year, and is looking to begin the initial commercial rollout of the service by 2017. Having a Verizon 5G network up and running in just a couple of years is certainly cool, considering that many industry watchers believe that 5G will realistically come to life no sooner than 2020. For mobile users who have been clamoring for the faster speeds that 5G can provide, this development should be music to their ears.
But apparently, Verizon’s rival AT&T is not that impressed with the notion, or at least not taking it seriously yet. As explained by Glenn Lurie, the chief executive officer of AT&T Mobility, wireless carriers in general have not yet reached a point where they can make realistic promises to mobile users regarding 5G services. Moreover, Lurie added that the wireless industry has been pretty good at overpromising things and then ending up underdelivering, especially when it comes to new technology, such as 5G.
Lurie’s statements exemplify the differences in approaches of the two wireless carriers with regards to 5G networks. Industry leader Verizon Wireless appears to be the aggressive one, making a visible effort to push wireless technology in order to provide faster connections and improved coverage. AT&T, who has managed to keep up with Verizon in terms of 4G coverage over the last few years, seems to be the more cautious one, electing instead to be more careful with promises, lest the industry fails to deliver on the goods.
AT&T is in the belief that the technology of 5G is still very much in its early stages, with the industry not exactly yet understanding it fully, much less know how to deliver it. The wireless carrier also thinks that there is still a need for the industry to establish standards on 5G technology, so that both service providers and mobile consumers can start to have realistic expectations on what 5G actually is. Of course, Verizon Wireless is standing by its announcement, and has even highlighted the coalition of equipment sellers and industry players that it has formed in order to make its 5G network a reality.
Lurie has acknowledged that several wireless carriers today are already conducting various tests related to 5G technology, however he refused to comment on whether AT&T is one of these carriers exploring the tech. He did further explain that AT&T was working with the industry in trying to come up with the standards for 5G.
Interestingly, a similar thing happened when 4G technology was in its infancy. Verizon was first to use it via a version of 4G tech called Long Term Evolution (LTE) back in 2008. AT&T at that time downplayed the idea at that that time, noting that there were not enough existing mobile devices to support the technology. But look how far 4G technology has gone now.
Verizon clearly wants a similar outcome for its exploration of 5G technology, and is already collaborating with Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, and other partners in order to bring the technology to life. The Big Red is certainly dead set on doing it, with or without AT&T’s support.
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