Verizon is pushing hard to be the first to deploy 5G commercially across their whole network, and their latest tech test, showing vendor network interoperability between Samsung and Cisco hardware and software is a huge step in the right direction. The trial deployment took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was the first successful trial of an end-to-end 5G network across multiple network solution vendors. Verizon was able to successfully integrate Samsung and Cisco’s 5G networks for total interoperability, though they did not make any mention of speed-enhancing network aggregation in the press release detailing the test. Similar tests are expected to go live in 5 cities by the middle of the year, with a grand total of 11 areas having 5G rolled out on at least a trial basis within that period.
The technology behind the Ann Arbor rollout was actually a hack of sorts; Cisco’s virtualised packet core technology converted the data being sent across it into a format that could be used with Samsung’s network equipment after being run through their vRAN equipment, and vice versa. This meant that places where Cisco and Samsung’s equipment intersected were places where data could jump freely between them. While this was not the intended purpose of either company’s packet handling technology for mobile networks, nobody can deny that it made Verizon’s job, integrating the two networks for seamless interoperability, far easier.
The implications of this testing are pretty far reaching. Multi-channel vendor and carrier aggregation is only the tip of the iceberg, but that alone could help boost 5G speeds well into the tens of Gbps on the user side, in both uplink and downlink. This also opens the door for vendors to set up equipment to work across multiple carriers simultaneously, which would give serious incentive for carriers and vendors to unify network technology once and for all. This, of course, would give future mobile chipsets and devices far more wiggle room in regards to design and power, making the phones of tomorrow faster and cheaper. Finally, the kind of network function virtualization shown off in these tests could allow seamless integration of 5G technology into almost any network. That could mean that cable companies could essentially offer customers their home Wi-Fi on the go, including all of the devices that they connect to and stream to and from, and it means that building out an integrating 5G could become far easier than it would otherwise be, if everybody involved gets on board with a single standard.