Verizon, Rogers, and Vodafone form global 5G interoperability group

Although a cellular industry organization called 3GPP is the primary source for international 5G standards, member companies often pursue their own individual and collaborative technology projects as well, laying the groundwork for future developments and standards. Today, six major carriers announced that they’ve formed the 5G Future Forum, a group that will collaborate on global 5G interoperability in hopes of accelerating adoption of the new technology.

The founding members are U.S. carrier Verizon, Canada’s Rogers, Europe’s Vodafone, Australia’s Telstra, Latin America’s América Móvil, and South Korea’s KT — each a heavy hitter, if not the heaviest, in its respective market. While the initial and second releases of the international 5G standard are more or less set in stone at this point, the 5G Future Forum appears to be focused on advancing 5G-enabling technologies, notably including mobile-edge computing to radically reduce network latency and improve data performance.

According to a release this morning, the Forum will “focus on the creation of uniform interoperability specifications” and marketplaces so developers and companies can deploy 5G solutions across multiple markets and nations. Members will also share their global best practices for deploying technology.

“5G is a key enabler of the next global industrial revolution,” explained Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, “where technology will transform how we live and work. It’s critical that technology partners around the world unite to create the most seamless global experience for our customers.” Fellow member CEOs, such as América Móvil’s Daniel Hajj, suggested that the group’s efforts will enable 5G applications to work on a global scale, rather than just in individual countries. This might otherwise prove tricky, given the growing array of 5G-targeted edge computing solutions being offered in various regions.

The 5G Future Forum’s list notably doesn’t include any carrier from China, an omission that might seem surprising, given the massive scale and ambition of Chinese 5G deployments. However, security concerns over Chinese networking hardware — particularly, but not exclusively, gear made by government-backed Huawei and used in Chinese 5G networks — might be leading the Forum’s members to seek alternative solutions. We’ve reached out to see whether the omission was deliberate and whether other members will be allowed to join. If so, this article will be updated with additional details.

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