The tests will include over-the-air field trials and interoperability testing and are intended to accelerate the deployment of standards-compliant 5G NR gear and devices.
Last June the 3GPP agreed on a working plan for Release 15 that included the development of the NR specification, and said it anticipated that work would continue until June 2018. In a previous interview with SDxCentral, Tom Keathley, AT&T’s senior vice president of wireless network architecture and design, said the company was pushing to have the specification ready a few months early to help accelerate the deployment of 5G gear.
This trial will help support that effort, as the companies believe that by conducting these 3GPP-based trials they can speed up the integration of 5G New Radio technologies into devices.
The companies also said the trials will use AT&T’s millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands as well as device prototypes from Qualcomm and base station prototypes from Ericsson. The trials will simulate real world scenarios and use technologies like 5G NR multiple-input, multiple output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking.
AT&T’s and its partners’ use of the 3GPP’s 5G NR specification is at odds with competitor Verizon, which released its own early 5G specification document last summer. Verizon has said its goal is to collaborate with vendors on some early specifications and then contribute those to the 3GPP. Verizon insists that its early release of these 5G specifications won’t create fragmentation in the industry.
Meanwhile, Korea Telecom is also aggressively pushing for 5G. The operator said it plans to complete the construction of a pre-standard 5G trial network by September, which makes it impossible that the carrier will be using standardized equipment. KT says that this aggressive timeline is necessary if it wants to provide service for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.