Verizon is gearing up to test its pre-commercial 5G service to pilot customers in 11 markets across the United States by mid-2017. The technology promises to be 10 to 100 times faster than our speediest existing cellular connections. Of course, since there are no 5G smartphones yet --- nor there is an actual universal 5G standard at this point --- the tests are for a fixed broadband implementation using equipment from partners Ericsson AB and Samsung Electronics and delivered to a group of homes and businesses.

Trials will begin in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington, D.C., with a fifth location in Michigan later in Q2. The locations represent varying terrain, neighborhood layouts and population density.

"We are excited to deliver the first end-to-end 5G connectivity in the United States with Verizon," said Youngky Kim, President of the Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. "This is a major leap forward in offering 5G fixed wireless access to consumers. The 5G challenges we will address, and the customer feedback we receive will help lay the foundation for future business models and customer applications."

Next-generation '5G' networks aren't expected to be commercially available until 2020, but Verizon and rival carriers are bringing the technology out of the lab and into the hands of actual users to accelerate development. AT&T is also testing 5G as a broadband replacement in an Intel office in Austin, Texas, and plans to start testing its DirecTV Now video service over 5G in that city as well.