Verizon will test 5G wireless in 11 cities by mid-2017

It's not a full-fledged launch, but it's a start.

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Verizon isn't going to let AT&T's 5G plans go unanswered. The carrier (and our corporate overlord) says it will pilot the gigabit-class wireless in 11 cities by the middle of 2017, including major urban hubs like Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Seattle and Washington, DC. These will be "pre-commercial services" offered to specific customers, so don't expect to try extra-fast cellular data in your neighborhood. Instead, this is about investigating "scenarios and use cases" before Verizon is ready to ask for money.

It's not certain when you'll see honest-to-goodness paid service, although Verizon has been aiming for sometime in 2017. However, any widespread deployment is likely to be contingent on a formal 5G standard, which doesn't exist yet -- and that's not including the necessary hardware. You might not want to get too excited, then. While 5G may well usher in an era where your smartphone data speeds are as fast as a fiber optic line, the technology is still very much in the early stages.