The wireless operator announced last February that it was working with Ericsson and Intel on a 5G test in Austin, Texas, that is slated for second quarter. Now it’s expanding those trials to Middletown, N.J.; Atlanta; and San Ramon, Calif., where the company said it will focus on system and software architecture.
In an email to SDxCentral, an AT&T spokesman says the Middleton, N.J., 5G test and other outdoor trials will happen by the end of the summer. Those outdoor, fixed wireless trials will operate in centimeter wave (cmWave) and millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum and use 5G air interface technologies to provide data speeds of 1-Gig and low latency.
According to the spokesman, the tests will include beam-steering, and beam-forming. Beam steering switches the antenna signal from beam to beam over a small physical area. Beam-forming uses MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) technology to send and receive data using multiple antennas. Both technologies help strengthen choppy wireless signals, which in turn will help increase speed and lower latency.
AT&T is touting its use of software-defined networking (SDN), data analytics, security, and open source software in its 5G trials. The company said that so far it has seen “multi-gigabit” speeds in its early lab tests.
AT&T has said that its leadership in SDN gives it an advantage in 5G. In 2014 the carrier announced its plan to virtualize 75 percent of its network by 2020, and it expects to reach 30 percent virtualization this year. It has 14 million wireless customers on its virtualized network now.
Competitor Sprint, last Friday kicked off the first 5G trial in the U.S., in conjunction with the 2016 Copa America Centenario soccer competition in Santa Clara, Calif.
Verizon is also testing 5G. The company has said it will have a fixed wireless 5G pilot available in 2017. The company’s 5G Technology Forum partners include vendors Nokia, Ericsson, Intel, Qualcomm, and Samsung. The companies have filed paperwork with the FCC to get special temporary authority to test equipment in the 28 GHz band.