AT&T to Begin 5G Testing


The next generation of mobile networks is still a couple of years ahead in the future for consumers. Offering speeds that are ten to 100 times faster than today’s networks, the 5G networks will not be powering any devices before the end of the decade. However, there is already a tough battle between technology companies and countries who are trying to be the first to offer this technology. One of the countries who have stayed at the forefront is Korea. It wishes to establish a network based on 5G technologies and have it up and running by the time the Winter Olympics come around in 2018.

Europe and China are also giving some thought to the next generation for getting ahead as they had been late in joining the 4G bandwagon. Therefore, the US leaders wish to show that they are stepping forward. Last year, it was announced by Verizon that it would begin 5G testing this year while AT&T announced plans in the previous week of beginning testing this year. In fact, they even said that they would begin using some components of 5G for offering wireless broadband commercially later this year. There is an advantage of using the technology for AT&T before the cell phone standards are established.

It can make use of the technology for meeting its commitments related to the merger and it can also begin expanding broadband access to outlying and rural communities that have satellite or DSL as their only option these days. John Donovan, the chief strategy officer at AT&T said that the idea of getting an early version for doing broadband replacement is quite appealing for them. Lab testing will be initiated by the carrier in the first half of the year and they will work with Ericsson and Intel. Some field testing will also be conducted in Austin for determining how 5G equipment can handle the real-world conditions such as wind and rain.

This testing is of the utmost importance as the use of high frequency waves that can move data quickly at a distance is one component that’s expected to be a part of any 5G standard and it is subject to interference. As per expectations, 5G technology will first be introduced in home broadband and then arrive for data-only devices such as tablets before it eventually reaches smartphones in the year 2019 or 2020. The announcement by AT&T comes just ahead of Mobile Word Congress this month where one of the hot topics will be 5G.

Not only is it a race amongst different carriers, but it has also become a geopolitical battle. The US is a leader in 4G and it faces both challenges and advantages from this position. No one country has managed to be the lead in successive mobile technologies because those who are left behind are careful not to make the same mistake again. On the good side, the 4G to 5G move will include the use of software and those with the recent network approaches are more likely to establish a 5G network. 

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