AT&T says mobile 5G, fixed wireless, and edge computing comprise the three main service pillars in its 5G strategy. “We’re the first carrier to publicly lay out what we’re making available to help businesses get the most out of this technology,” the carrier claims in a blog.
Today the carrier said that it is building its networks “to allow fiber-based connectivity and LTE to work efficiently in parallel with 5G solutions.” This follows a not-so-thinly veiled swipe from Verizon, which recently called out AT&T for including a “5GE” emblem on smartphones that connect to the carrier’s 4G LTE network.
Verizon launched its own 5G service in October. But unlike AT&T’s standards-based approach, Verizon’s current 5G network uses a proprietary specification that was spearheaded by the carrier in an attempt to jumpstart work on 5G standards. Verizon said it will upgrade its network to the official 5G specification as equipment becomes available.
But back to AT&T’s three pillars: mobile 5G is the first. And to that end the carrier has pledged to deploy a standards-based nationwide mobile 5G network by early 2020.
It also is working with Samsung on two 5G smart phones it plans to launch this year, and says it opened a space within its AT&T Foundry in Plano, Texas, which is dedicated to prototyping solutions for industry verticals.
Pillar No. 2 is fixed wireless because businesses can use it for primary connectivity or as a secondary connection to enable reliability. AT&T Business already offers Wireless Broadband. And in the coming weeks AT&T says it will offer multiple speed tiers up to 50Mbps.
Nationwide more than 8 million business customer locations sit within 1,000 feet of AT&T’s fiber, and the carrier claims it connects nearly 2.2 million locations with fiber today. This, AT&T says, will make it easier for companies to upgrade to AT&T’s 5G network when it’s available in their area.
And finally edge computing — pillar No. 3 — is vital because it allows businesses to process low-latency, high-bandwidth applications closer to where they’re used. AT&T already offers AT&T Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC), which can be deployed using LTE or 5G connectivity, for both mobile and fixed wireless applications. The carrier recently announced deals with AT&T Stadium and Rush University Medical Center to set up 5G with a focus on MEC. And it says it will share more about its edge services this year.