Verizon’s ambitions to digitize and connect cities across the U.S. is increasingly being fueled by their investments in 5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology.
And while consumers will most likely experience faster downloads, higher definition content streaming to their smartphones, clearer audio, and cooler connected cars, the most dramatic benefits may be those enjoyed by governments and private enterprises through smart communities, smart buildings, smart factories, smart universities – and safer living everywhere.
"5G has the potential to join a very exclusive club?the handful of technologies throughout history that transform industries across every sector of the economy- redefining work, elevating living standards, and having a profound and sustained impact on our global economic growth," said Ronan Dunne, Executive Vice President and Group President, Verizon Wireless, as part of the company’s campaign to drive more awareness as the company lights up one city after another.
Verizon has deployed smart community solutions in over 60 communities, many of them part of Verizon’s “early trials” with implementations in Sacramento, Boston, Washington, DC and more.
As the technology and implementations are becoming more proven, Verizon seems to be focusing most recently on the West Coast, where the combinations of population, innovation and economic growth are driving public and private interest and investment in digital transformation for societal improvement.
Verizon’s Partnership with Sacramento, announced in June 2017, supported the city’s Vision Zero initiative. “Vision Zero is a traffic safety philosophy that rejects the notion that traffic crashes are simply “accidents,” but instead preventable incidents that can and must be systematically addressed,” Sacramento’s city planners explain. “Through Vision Zero, the City of Sacramento and its partners are committed to working together to create safer streets.”
Working with the city, Verizon also contributed to improving public life and the environment with advanced signal controls to manage vehicle flow, decrease congestion, improve public transit, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Additionally, Sacramento was one of the first cities with 5G broadband. According to Sean Harrington, VP for City Solutions, the key to a successful partnership with a city goes beyond the implementation of smart technology.
“We have a shared focus with the city of Sacramento to help get the next generation of citizens and businesses excited about smart technology and involved in the changes happening to their city through opportunities like STEM training, internships and education. When it comes down to it, the future generation will be the most impacted by this technology, so they are important to ensuring the best future possible for a city.
As a Tier One operator, and one of the largest Communications Service Providers (CSPs) in the U.S. and the world, Verizon has influenced the evolution of mobile technology from 1G, focused mainly on the ability to make voice calls on a cellular device from anywhere. 2G introduced a short-messaging layer, unlocking the massive growth of texting; 3G provided the essential network speeds for smartphones.
4G, with exponentially faster data-transfer rates, turned smartphones into the interactive, visual, social, content and data consumption machines we know and love today.
5G technology, according to Verizon and all other large CSPs, is a massive pivot point for mobile broadband, “delivering life-changing technologies through next-generation networks.”
Verizon's Ultra-Wide Band 5G network will allow up to 100 times better throughput, 10 times longer battery life and 1,000 times larger data volumes, all while being 10 times more reliable.
Verizon’s strategy has been one of leveraging multiple capabilities including fiber assets, wireless millimeter wave spectrum, engineering experience and a large and growing technology partner ecosystem to introduce and scale 5G.
Earlier this year, Verizon and the city of San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, announced terms on a deal to improve the city’s information technology (IT) infrastructure, and support a state-of-the-art, digitally connected community for businesses, residents and visitors.
As part of this collaboration, Verizon will deploy fiber and install small cells, make significant monetary investments in the city’s Digital Inclusion Fund, and provide several smart city applications, focusing on traffic management. These investments by Verizon also lay the groundwork for the eventual introduction of 5G services.
“From a network standpoint, the deployment of back-end infrastructure is integral for the next generation 5G network, and its promise of massive capacity and low latency. With this new partnership and with what we know about the future network, this will help San Jose’s leaders use real-time data for planning and decision-making to create a safer, more sustainable and resilient community.
Verizon has been working for years on the densification of their 4G LTE network in high population areas using small cell sites. This is enabling data to be processed more efficiently closer to the edge of the network, which is particularly critical for low-latency, real time applications for smart communities.
Their engineering feats in communities across the country are positioned to transform the network and “push the limits of 5G's potential faster and more efficiently.”
In 2017 and early 2018, they conducted field trials in 11 markets nationwide—among them Ann Arbor, MI, Sacramento, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston and, according to Verizon officials, “exceeded our expectations for how the technology would perform.”
Much of their pre-positioning for their 5G network launch is already in place, including access to the radio waves, fiber and small cells, which will make the installation of 5G network equipment faster, and bring next-generation technology to customers sooner.
Further West, in the beautiful state of Hawaii, Verizon is investing in super-fast broadband service this year, with plans to expand there and in other states in 2019 and beyond.
In Hawaii, the collaboration with Verizon focused on using data collected from smart sensors on solar power units on rooftops to determine the company’s energy grid levels and help customers understand their level of consumption. This allows customers to better utilize energy and the company to establish power levels that work toward energy sustainability in the community.
“The Internet of Things is ultimately designed to make our lives more efficient and sustainable with actionable data. Our recent partnership with the Hawaii Electric Company shows how data can help the State toward reaching its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.”
Verizon’s 5G trials reportedly achieved download speeds roughly 30-50 times faster than what is possible with 4G. Data moves so quickly on 5G that Dunne said, “5G isn’t just another iteration of wireless innovation. Just as the next generation of the television industry reinvented content based on the unique properties of the medium itself, the potential of the fifth generation of wireless technology demands that we fundamentally rethink what can be done on a wireless platform.”
Verizon states there are some 8.4 billion connected “things” in use—up 31% from 2016, and forecast that, with 5G, the number will grow to more than 20.4 billion over the next 2-3 years.
Dunne sees 5G as one of the most powerful means to improve the U.S. and global economy. Verizon also projects that by 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and support 22 million jobs worldwide.
Much of that growth, the company says, will come from the digitization of transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and other physical industries.
“The rollout of 5G on a global scale will fundamentally re-shape industries, opening doors and paving the way for new technologies and opportunities we can’t even imagine. For a future with interconnected and smart technologies, 5G is the ultimate key that will make autonomous mobility, cloud-connected traffic signal optimization and other applications that depend on instantaneous response and data analysis live up to their potential.”
Edited by Ken Briodagh