AT&T To Conduct 5G Mobile Network Trials In Summer


AT&T has unveiled its 5G roadmap, and plans to start testing the service this year.

The company is realizing that new technologies – virtual reality, self-driving cars, robotics, and smart cities – can become a reality with 5G. “These technologies will be immersive, pervasive and responsive to customers, and are about to test networks like never before,” said John Donovan, Chief strategy officer and group president, AT&T Technology and Operations.

5G will deliver speeds 10-100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE connections, according to AT&T, which added that customers will see speeds measured in gigabits per second, not megabits.

At one gigabit (GB) per second, you can download a TV show in less than 3 seconds. With 5G, customers will also see much lower latency, which is how long it takes after you press play on a video app for the video to start streaming on your device.

“We expect 5G latency in the range of 1 to 5 milliseconds,” the company said.

For years, AT&T said it has been working on millimeter waves, network function virtualization (NFV), and software-defined networking (SDN), which will be among the key ingredients for future 5G experiences. The company has filed dozens of patents connected with those technologies.

AT&T is teaming up with Ericsson and Intel to work on 5G solutions in its labs starting in the second quarter of this year.

The company is looking to conduct 5G outdoor testing in the summer, and expects field trials of 5G technologies to provide wireless connectivity to fixed locations in Austin before the end of this year.

“The trials will help guide our 5G standards contributions, and set the stage for widespread commercial and mobile availability once technology standards for 5G are established,” AT&T said in a statement.

5G will be idea for bandwidth-hungry applications as it supports multiple radio interfaces, enables more spectrum efficiency, and takes advantage of SDN and network function virtualization (NFV), according to AT&T.

AT&T, which after seeing that more than 60% of the data traffic on its total network was video in 2015, expects 4K video, virtual reality, and IoT to drive the next wave of traffic growth.

“AT&T’s 5G field trials will play an important role in ensuring rapid and wide-scale adoption of this next generation mobile technology,” added Arun Bansal, senior vice president and head of business unit radio, Ericsson.

“5G will impact the entire mobile network – from devices to access and core to cloud – and open up exciting new IoT applications for consumers and industry, so Ericsson is enabling AT&T to move beyond 5G lab tests to gain a greater understanding of 5G’s potential in their own network environments and markets.”

Shares of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) are trading up 0.41% in Friday’s early session. Since the start of this year, the company’s stock has gained 5.68%.

Photo Credit: AT&T