Verizon stated in a recent announcement that it achieved the first 5G data transmission in the world on an actual smartphone over the 5G New Radio (5G NR) network. During the test, Verizon used a unit of the Moto Z3 equipped with the 5G Moto Mod, an accessory that allows the handset to support 5G networks. The Moto Mod houses the Snapdragon X50 modem and the QTM052 mmWave antenna modules from Qualcomm, and it also contains a 2,000mAh battery, which the smartphone may need due to the additional power consumption required by the 5G connectivity feature. The connection was established over the carrier’s 5G network, which utilizes the 28GHz mmWave spectrum and uses the network equipment supplied by Samsung Electronics. Verizon did not provide additional details regarding the 5G network performance of the Moto Z3, although the carrier noted that the successful test will help widen its lead over its rivals in the testing and deployment of 5G networks.
Background: Verizon has partnered with several companies to test the capabilities of the service provider’s 5G service. In the last few months, the carrier partnered with network equipment suppliers Nokia and Samsung for a variety of 5G tests, which focuses not only on the data speeds achievable on the 5G network but also on the use cases made possible by the cellular technology including virtual reality and fixed wireless broadband.
The investments made by Verizon in the research and development of 5G networks and devices allowed the carrier to claim a number of world’s first in 5G. Verizon is currently offering the first 5G-upgradeable smartphone, the Moto Z3, which the service provider unveiled back in August 2018. The carrier also launched the world’s first commercial 5G network, which powers the company’s fixed wireless broadband service known as the 5G Home. The availability of this service is currently limited to four cities across the United States, including Houston, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis. However, this network does not comply with the 5G New Radio standard, and it instead uses the 5G Technology Forum standard. Nonetheless, the carrier noted that it will replace existing equipment with standards-compliant equipment once these devices become available.
Aside from Verizon, the other major carriers in the United States are also actively involved in the development of their respective 5G services. AT&T recently claimed that it completed the world’s first mobile 5G browsing session over the mmWave spectrum, although unlike Verizon, AT&T used a mobile hotspot from NETGEAR to conduct its test. Meanwhile, T-Mobile recently signed a multi-year deal with Ericsson to build out the carrier’s 5G network, while Sprint is developing its first 5G smartphone in collaboration with the South Korean tech giant LG Electronics.
Impact: The recent testing conducted by Verizon ensures that there will be a device that consumers can use to take advantage of the fast data speeds and reduced latencies offered by Verizon’s 5G service once it launches. The carrier plans to launch its mobile 5G network in the first half of 2019, although the coverage of the network will likely be limited to selected urban areas in the near future.