Verizon plans to offer indoor 5G networks by year-end

As superfast 5G wireless technology slowly rolls out across the country for consumers, Verizon is also planning business applications that might bring in more revenue sooner.

The carrier on Wednesday announced it will install 5G networks indoors in places like stores, schools, and hospitals starting by year-end. The move is a first step in allowing Verizon to offer private 5G networks for businesses. The announcement comes as the carrier successfully completed a test with Corning to deploy a private 5G network inside a laboratory.

The indoor experiment was meant to show that 5G could connect machines in a factory or hospital with more reliable and higher speed connectivity than Wi-Fi or other available wireless technologies. The test also included a mini cloud server, which allowed quicker connections to cloud software apps.

“A private 5G network will offer customers the potential to have the cloud within their facility,” Verizon senior vice president Adam Koeppe said in a statement. “It will accelerate enterprise automation and digitization efforts.”

Verizon and rivals AT&T and T-Mobile are spending of tens of billions of dollars to upgrade their nationwide mobile networks to 5G, which should ultimately offer download speeds 10 to 100 times as fast as current 4G LTE networks and allow for connecting many more devices. But excitement about the rollout of 5G has cooled during the pandemic, with Verizon and its rivals struggling to offer faster service in many locations. There is also a lack of consumer applications that take advantage of the new technology so far.

Verizon’s indoor, private network trial is meant to open another avenue for the carrier to generate some revenue from 5G.

The initial successful tests were conducted by Corning in a Verizon lab in Westlake, Texas. Next up, Corning is trying 5G indoors at some of its own facilities. Additional lab trials are also ongoing with Samsung, Verizon said.

Correction, Sept. 16, 2020: This story was updated to clarify that Verizon plans to offer indoor 5G by year-end, but will not be offering a private 5G service for businesses by that point.

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