AT&T Taps Power Lines To Deliver AirGig Last-Mile Wireless Gigabit Internet To Homes

Deploying fiber cabling throughout cities across the United States isn’t cheap, especially when we’re talking about the “last mile” of fiber that goes directly to homes and businesses. Alphabet arguably got the ball rolling with its Google Fiber rollouts across the country, followed by Comcast and AT&T countering with their own (sometimes faster) fiber services.

AT&T this week announced that it is looking to speed up its rollout of gigabit internet throughout the country at a lower cost. The telecommunications company is doing so using what it calls AirGig, which will deliver multi-gigabit speeds wirelessly using existing power lines.

airgig 1

AT&T is using low-cost plastic antennas that are affixed directly to power lines to transmit data using millimeter wavebands. These antennas wouldn’t require direct electrical connections to the power lines, which also helps to keep costs down. With this setup in place, AT&T claims that it could provide 4G LTE and 5G multi-gigabit services to not only urban city centers, but also rural parts of the U.S. and “underserved parts of the world.” This sounds like something that the town of Pinetops, North Carolina could use…

AT&T has amassed over 100 patents relating to AirGig and will begin its first field trials next year.

“Project AirGig has tremendous potential to transform internet access globally – well beyond our current broadband footprint and not just in the United States,” stated John Donovan, AT&T chief strategy officer for Technology and Operations. “The results we’ve seen from our outdoor labs testing have been encouraging, especially as you think about where we’re heading in a 5G world.”

If you recall, Google Fiber is testing out similar last-mile wireless gigabit connections for its service. Google Fiber has run into problems not only with geography in certain markets (i.e. the difficulty of digging through limestone rock in Nashville, Tennessee), but also with escalating costs in bringing fiber directly to homes and businesses. Google Fiber is currently planning to deploy experimental wireless transmitters in two dozen markets across the U.S. that operate in the 3.4GHz to 3.8MHz frequency range.

Google Fiber is hoping to use the wireless transmission technology that it acquired from Webpass to help lower costs and potentially save the money-losing division of Alphabet.