MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New public technology upgrades are coming to the city of Memphis that will mean faster WiFi and, maybe, self-driving city vehicles.
Verizon announced Memphis as one of 20 cities in the country that would have 5G Ultra Wideband service installed this year.
“This is an exciting day for Memphis,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a press release. “This is another testament that our momentum is real and will play a large part in continuing to advance equitable economic development throughout our city. We’re so thankful to our partners at Verizon and MLGW for helping make this happen.”
Verizon has a goal of providing 30 cities in the United States with 5G service by the end of the year. Chicago and Minneapolis are currently the only two cities with an up-and-running 5G network. AT&T rolled out 5G service in a handful of cities including Nashville earlier this year.
According to Verizon, 5G will provide about 20 times faster downloads than the current 4G network and virtually eliminate lagging. Verizon released a new phone that runs on 5G, and more will soon follow. When 5G network is not available, the phones will still connect to 4G.
The upgraded network would improve internet speeds in places like schools, hospitals and local businesses, but it will also allow the city to experiment with new technology and make improvements to existing services like education and healthcare.
One service announced as a possible innovation thanks to the 5G upgrade is autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles. These vehicles are in the early stages in many cities, and Memphis plans to be another to try to get the driver-less vehicles on the streets.
“Memphis is a hotbed of innovation, and we are in the very early discussions with multiple companies that are interested in bringing AV to Memphis,” said Dan Springer, deputy director of Media Affairs for the City of Memphis.
It is unclear when these vehicles will take to the streets or what services they will provide.
Springer said MATA has not been involved in discussions so far, but they are aware of the plans for autonomous vehicles.
The upgraded service could also enhance artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality and the Internet of Things devices.
The other 19 cities announced to get Verizon 5G service are Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Phoenix, Providence, Salt Lake City, San Diego and Washington, D.C.