AT&T has already experimented heavily with 5G in lab settings (speeds of up to 14Gbps have been achieved, with latency of just 3ms), but it is increasingly going out into the real world with field tests. AT&T will launch a 5G trial with Austin, Texas residents during the first half of 2017 to stream its DirecTV Now video service. The trial will comprise of a fixed 5G wireless connection, with select AT&T customers likely being given access to special hardware that would be installed on their home networks.
“The trial will include multiple sites and devices, and we expect to further advance our 5G learnings,” stated AT&T. “Especially in how fixed wireless mmWave technology handles heavy video traffic.”
AT&T has in the past partnered with Intel and Ericsson on 5G business customer trials using mmWave tech, and customers were able to achieve peak download/upload speeds of 1Gbps. Those speeds were achieved early on during the trial period, and are only expected to go higher as the technology matures.
Going forward, AT&T is looking to both Ericsson and Qualcomm for both fixed and mobile 5G trials that will take place during the second half of 2017. These trials will also use mmWave technology, and should pave the way for future 5G-enabled smartphones.
AT&T’s first commercial point-to-point 5G service is scheduled to go online in 2018, while its commercial 5G mobile service will reportedly reach customers in 2019.
Leading up to the public rollout of 5G, AT&T is still investing in LTE-A, and expects that some of its cell sites will be capable of theoretical 1Gbps peak speeds in 2017. Three-way carrier aggregation is already being deployed in some markets, while four-way carrier aggregation should rollout later in 2017.