AT&T Labs is building millimeter wave 5G gear to be used in the company’s trials instead of relying on vendors for all its 5G equipment and software. “Most of the competition will use vendor equipment. We hope to gain some insights because we have expertise in this space,” said Tom Keathley, AT&T’s senior vice president of Wireless Network Architecture and Design.
Keathley was speaking at the Cowen & Company Communications Infrastructure Summit in Boulder, Colo., yesterday. He added that in the company’s lab tests, AT&T is already seeing instances where it can deliver up to 14 Gb/s per user using millimeter wave technology.
Although AT&T Labs is building this initial 5G gear, the firm is not interested in becoming a hardware company, Keathley said. Software is another story.
“Our focus is all about software,” he said. “AT&T Labs is focused on ECOMP — the layer that stitches together everything we need for the cloud to function in an environment that we need. Software is the name of the game,” he added.
ECOMP, which stands for Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy, is the company’s master service orchestrator. AT&T in July said it would make ECOMP available on an open source basis if the community was interested.
AT&T is collaborating with vendors Ericsson, Intel, and Nokia on its 5G trials in Austin, Texas; Middletown, New Jersey; Atlanta; and San Ramon, California.
The Middletown 5G tests will happen this summer. The outdoor, fixed wireless trials will operate in centimeter wave and millimeter wave spectrum and will use 5G air interface technologies.
Keathley said that AT&T is looking at fixed and mobile versions of 5G, and that fixed 5G wireless connectivity in some form could happen in late 2017.