If you ask the major U.S. telecom companies, they'll tell you the next generation of mobile wireless technology, 5G, has arrived. But things are a little messy right now. Carriers still might mean different things when they say 5G. There aren't any 5G phones that operate on 5G mobile networks. And when there are, how much is the service going to cost? The big carriers are plowing ahead because they'll make a ton of money with business opportunities far beyond just talk, text and data plans. Molly Wood talks about the promise of 5G with Nicki Palmer, chief network officer at Verizon. She says the 5G infrastructure may feel far away, but the groundwork is already there. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Nicki Palmer: Wireless networks are really only wireless from that cell tower or that small cell on the corner in your city to your device. The back end is really fiber based. So the fiber infrastructure, we've been building that for the last number of years. We have small cells, for example, in all of the top cities around the country in a pretty significant amount. That infrastructure, while not completely sufficient for 5G, lays the foundation for 5G and is completely reusable for 5G.