AT&T’s Keathley: 5G standards should be released in 2017, not 2018

AT&T’s Thomas Keathley

LAS VEGAS – AT&T’s Thomas Keathley said he hopes the 3GPP is able to speed up its work on the standard for 5G network technology so that the standard becomes available at the end of 2017 rather than in the middle of 2018, as is currently scheduled.

“Ideally, if we can accelerate the actual standard … we can be out to market faster with that technology,” said Keathley, AT&T’s SVP of wireless network architecture and design, here at the CTIA’s Super Mobility trade show.

In June, the 3GPP announced that it had agreed on a “detailed workplan for Release-15, the first release of 5G specifications.” The effort includes the development of a 5G New Radio (NR), and a timeline from the group indicated their work would stretch through June of 2018.

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“We now have a more concrete plan to guide the studies in the Working Groups and to put us in the position to address both short term and long term opportunities of 5G,” Dino Flore, chairman of 3GPP Technical Specifications Groups for RAN, said at the time.

It's no surprise that Keathley is pushing for a quicker release of the technology. Already, AT&T is conducting its own tests of 5G technologies in various bands, and has recorded download speeds up to 14 Gbps for one user.

Furthermore, AT&T just last month announced it plans to work with a wide range of vendors and operators – including China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, KDDI, LG, Nokia, DoCoMo, Qualcomm, Samsung, SK Telecom, Telstra and Vodafone – to enable faster 5G deployments once the 3GPP completes the first release of the official specifications for the upcoming network technology.

Verizon was noticeably absent from AT&T’s announcement, though Verizon’s Adam Koeppe noted at the show that the carrier is also working to speed the development of 5G specifications. Specifically, Koeppe said Verizon has already released preliminary standards for a fixed version of 5G through its Verizon 5G Technology Forum at the group’s website, 5GTF.org.

Koeppe, Verizon’s VP of network technology planning, said Verizon hopes its fixed 5G specifications are included in the 3GPP’s work toward a 5G standard. Verizon has said it hopes to launch commercial, fixed 5G services as early as next year.

It’s likely that AT&T and Verizon aren’t alone in hoping to speed up the development of the 5G standard. Executives from Ericsson and Nokia, for instance, have said they are hoping for a boost in revenues from sales of 5G equipment.

Related articles:
Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint conspicuously absent in AT&T’s new 5G standards collaboration effort
U.S. Cellular, T-Mobile CTOs detail ongoing tests of 5G technology

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