AT&T conducts mmW 5G usage trial for business customers

Guy Daniels
By Guy Daniels

Dec 6, 2016

© Flickr/cc-licence/Leo Reynolds

© Flickr/cc-licence/Leo Reynolds

  • mmW trial using 15GHz and 28GHz mmW spectrum bands
  • Designed to trial outdoor-to-indoor coverage for businesses
  • AT&T partnering with Intel and Ericsson in Texas

AT&T has announced what it says is the first US-based 5G trial specifically for business customers. The telco is testing millimeter wave (mmW) technology to run a 5G network in one of Intel’s offices in Austin, Texas. Having previously worked with both Ericsson and Intel to conduct its first public 5G demo featuring streaming of 4K UHD video [for some reason, AT&T’s PR team keep referring to 4K HD, but we can confirm it obviously was UHD] at speeds of up to 14Gbit/s, it is now taking the system into the field to explore what benefits it can provide a real-world business customer.

“This trial is a significant step forward,” said Rick Hubbard, SVP of Networking Product Management, AT&T. “We expect mmW technology to be an important part of 5G. The trial will help accelerate our 5G work by shedding new light on how the technology acts in a business environment.”

The trial will use the 15GHz and 28GHz mmW spectrum bands and will feature internet access, VPN, unified communications applications, the now obligatory 4K video streams, as well as investigating the potential of 5G VoIP. The announcement was a little unclear about capacity parameters, though it would appear that data speeds will be set at 1Gbit/s or higher.

“The future of video is mobile, and the future of mobile is video,” said Tom Keathley, SVP of wireless network architecture and design at AT&T, inadvertently creating a Möbius Strip of inescapable mobile video and creating quite a paradox for theoretical physicists. “Mobile video streaming continues to be a vital aspect of our 5G work, and this trial gives us an opportunity to test 4K HD (sic) video streaming across further physical distances between pieces of equipment. With our 5G and 4G LTE advancements, we expect speeds rivalling what we see from cable providers.”

Aicha Evans, corporate VP and GM of the Communications and Devices Group of Intel, added that Intel “is committed to collaborating with industry leaders to develop leading technologies and solutions that expedite network readiness for the successful early roll out of 5G." Thomas Noren, Head of Product Area Network Products at Ericsson, reminded us all that “Ericsson is working with AT&T and other leading operators and ecosystem players to drive the realization of 5G – both with today’s pre-standard field trials and through standardisation activities with global standards bodies and industry groups. This trial takes us a step closer to 5G commercialisation, validating the feasibility of outdoor-to-indoor mmW coverage for business customers.”

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