Los Angeles will be one of four US cities to get Verizon’s 5G service later this year, the company’s CEO, Lowell McAdam, told CNBC on Tuesday.
For the last couple of years, Verizon has hyped its next generation wireless service, saying it’ll be 10 to 100 times faster than the company’s existing cellular network. But the carrier has been cagey about the details. Late last year, it had named Sacramento, California, as the first city to get 5G. And it promised to launch the service in three to five cities by the end of 2018.
On Tuesday, McAdam gave a bit more detail about what’s ahead, naming Los Angeles as the second of four cities that’ll receive 5G. The company plans to start rolling out its fixed 5G broadband service in the fourth quarter of 2018 and into early 2019. McAdam promised to unveil the names of the other two cities later this year.
“I think we’re a lot closer than people think,” McAdam said. “We’re locking in on four this year,” McAdam said regarding cities where Verizon’s 5G network will go first.
Verizon will cover nearly 500 square miles using 1,000 small cell radios in Los Angeles. McAdam talked about the importance of working with city governments to help it and other wireless companies roll out the new services. He said Los Angeles and Sacramento have worked with Verizon to move quickly in installing equipment on utility poles.
Los Angeles hopes to attract businesses and startups by promoting its status as one of the first cities to get 5G wireless.
“We want people to know this is a city where innovation is incubated,” said Jeanne Holm, the senior technology advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We want to have the infrastructure in place to make sure new services and ideas can be tried.”
Holm said there are many applications for the 5G network, such as bringing broadband to various pockets of the city that have been underserved in the past. Though applications like self-driving cars may sound exciting, she said that the city is looking at less sexy applications like simply improving the flow of traffic to promote public safety.
“Having constant connectivity via 5G to time lights and collect information on pedestrians and bicycles on the streets can help us improve public safety,” she said.
She explained that since 1984, when it hosted the Olympics, Los Angeles has had an automatic traffic system that it’s continued to build out and improve. But 5G will let the city take this automation to a new level with machine learning as well as data from tiny sensors all over the city. That’ll help with things like creating bike lanes to decrease the incidence of traffic accidents involving pedestrian and bicyclists. Holm said LA has been limited in accessing real time data, but that the 5G network with its quick response times should improve that.
Verizon has been paving the way for the commercial deployment of 5G this year. The company is set to spend $17 billion to $17.8 billion in 2018 on capital projects, which includes its work on 5G.
Other carriers are also hitting the gas on their 5G network deployments. In February, AT&T said Atlanta, Dallas and Waco, Texas, would be the first of 12 cities to receive 5G technology. The company has also been launching 5G-related services in several other cities. Sprint has also said it’s bringing its 5G services to Kansas City, Phoenix and New York City. Meanwhile, T-Mobile said in February that it’ll deploy mobile 5G to 30 cities, including New York and LA.
But consumers won’t see any real benefits of these deployments until 2019 when the first 5G-capable smartphones hit the market.
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