AT&T to Expand Fixed Wireless 5G Trials to More Cities in the United States

5G TrialsAT&T will be expanding its fixed wireless 5G trials to business and residential customers in Waco, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana by the end of the year. In June, the company had launched its second fixed wireless 5G trial in Austin with local businesses. This included a car wash, a church and other small businesses. It also launched a test site at an apartment unit.

Since then, AT&T has gained new insights into millimeter wave (mmWave) performance and propagation. It has also learned more about how things like foliage, building materials, device placement, surrounding environment and weather impact the signal and system in a real-world environment. Along with reaching speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second and latency rates well under 10 milliseconds for the radio link at customer trial locations in Austin, the tech giant also continues to conduct outdoor pre-standards mobile 5G testing. As one of the top North American wireless carrier contributors into the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) wireless standards body’s work on 5G standards, AT&T is contributing key trial findings from Austin into the standards process.

With Austin seeing all types of weather and substantial foliage, taking its fixed wireless 5G trials out of the lab and into the real world helps them learn important factors about mmWave and 5G. And in doing so, the company is learning how to better design its network for the future. At the same time, trial participants in Austin are experiencing a glimpse into the future and seeing the real-life benefits that tomorrow’s 5G will offer.

AT&T is applying key learnings from Austin to the coming trials in Waco, Kalamazoo, and South Bend and expects to learn even more. In these markets, it plans to increase the number of participants and expand the physical footprint. It will continue to test fixed and mobile wireless solutions operating in mmWave spectrum in the field and its testbeds. Learnings from these new fixed wireless 5G trials will help speed up standards based deployment as early as late 2018.

Trial participants in the new markets may include universities, hospitals, churches, restaurants, and other small businesses. Participants will be able to stream premium live TV via DIRECTV NOW and experience faster broadband services, all over a 5G internet connection.

The pre-testing of 5G trials now, even before standards are released, has allowed AT&T with learning about 5G and mmWave characteristics to prepare for network planning and deployment. The company can now contribute those learnings in real time as standards are being developed. It is aggressively deploying equipment, investing in the right mix of spectrum and technology, and laying the foundation for its evolution to 5G while 5G standards are being finalized. This is a major step in the company’s journey to deliver state-of-the-art 5G speeds as soon as late 2018.

Thanks to the targeted acceleration activity within 3GPP, and with lessons learned during these trials, AT&T expects commercial equipment to be available within 6 months of the completion of the 5G Release 15 standard.