AT&T extends wireless 5G trials to three new US cities

AT&T is extending its trials of 5G wireless technologies to residential customers in three more US cities by the end of the year.

The company began testing fixed wireless 5G in Austin, Texas, in June and these new trials will see a continuation of that and with the addition of the cities of Waco, Texas, Kalamazoo, Michigan and South Bend, Indiana.

“By taking what we’re learning with the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform in Austin to new markets, we’re able to test more real-world applications of 5G technology with our infrastructure partners as an ecosystem, from the network, cloud and device to make 5G a reality,” said Sandra Rivera, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Network Platforms Group and 5G executive sponsor.

Partners in the trails include Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia and Intel. AT&T says that it has seen speeds of 1Gbps and latency rates of below 10ms for the radio link in trial locations in Austin. 

“We’ve been testing and demonstrating 5G technologies with AT&T for over a year and now we’re expanding the scope of our trial to AT&T customers in Waco,” said Joakim Sorelius, head of product area network systems at Ericsson. “Ericsson is providing an end to end solution that includes new 28GHz radios, virtualized RAN and a full 5G virtualised core. By testing the technologies in the live commercial-like environment and trialing new 5G use cases together, we are able to gain valuable experience in preparation for commercial deployments based on 3GPP new radio technology.”

The company says that only through real world testing has it learned about the effects of foliage, building materials, device placement, surrounding environment and weather on the signal. AT&T says it is contributing its findings to 3GPP’s work on 5G standards. 

“Taking our fixed wireless 5G trials out of the lab and into the real world helps us learn important factors about mmWave and 5G. And in doing so, we’re learning how to better design our network for the future,” said Marachel Knight, senior vice president, wireless network architecture and design at AT&T.

Participants in the upcoming trials will be able to stream live TV via DirecTV Now and test faster broadband connections. Locations include universities, hospitals, churches, restaurants and various small businesses, all using last mile connections to the home over wireless millimetre wave technology. 

“Samsung will deliver its 5G network solution in South Bend, Indiana for this trial. This includes a 5G router for businesses and homes. The foundation is built on Samsung’s 5G RFIC chipset and virtualized core and vRAN so deploying and operating is faster and easier,” said Wilf Norrlinger, vice president and general manager of sales, networks at Samsung Electronics America.

AT&T says that it is applying the findings from the Austin trials to the upcoming trials in Waco, Kalamazoo,and South Bend. It hopes that by increasing the testing footprint using fixed and mobile wireless solutions using mmWave spectrum, it hopes to speed up standards based deployment to as early as late 2018.

“This deployment will offer a good environment to test a multitude of new use cases and deployment challenges within our fixed trial, but also as we extend this to include mobility. Nokia is excited to be working with AT&T to advance 5G and take our learnings from the lab to the real world with AT&T enterprise and residential consumers,” said Ricky Corker, executive vice president and head of North America for Nokia.