AT&T's Lurie: 'We should not be nervous' about U.S. status in 5G leadership

Anyone who's concerned the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to 5G should just chill out, according to AT&T (NYSE: T) Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie.

Glenn Lurie AT&T Mobility


Speaking at a Brookings Institution event that focused on the Internet of Things, Lurie noted there's a lot of concern around other parts of the world trying to lead in 5G, and "everybody needs to kinda chill and understand that once the standards are built, we are obviously working really hard, as are folks in China and Korea and Japan, other places."

The reality is, "5G is going to be spectacular. But we have to remember that it's not coming for four or five years, and what we have today is really, really spectacular as well. And that's why I don't want us to go out and overpromise and under-deliver," he said.

"You're going to see a lot of PR, a lot of PR come out of Asia -- a little bit out of Europe but mostly out of Asia -- that gets people nervous," he added. "We should not be nervous."

Lurie commented to CNET at the CTIA trade show last month that the industry has been good at overpromising and under-delivering when it comes to new technology, noting that the technology behind 5G is still in its infancy and at such an early stage that no one can agree on what it will look like.

The comments came after AT&T's biggest rival Verizon (NYSE: VZ) announced it is working with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Cisco, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Samsung to test 5G in the company's U.S. innovation centers, marking the first time a U.S. operator announced its intent to trial 5G technology.

The standards for 5G have not yet been written, and commercial deployment of 5G is not expected to occur until at least 2020. But while the U.S. led in LTE deployments, there is concern that it is not going to lead in the same way with 5G. Many Asian operators and even some European operators have talked about their plans for trials of 5G. However, demonstrations are not the same as deployments and it's unknown how much these operators will actually deploy 5G or how quickly.

In a filing with the FCC earlier this year, NYU Wireless said it believes the U.S. is falling behind other nations in 5G R&D aimed at the mainstream wireless technology sector. NYU Wireless has been pushing the FCC to make millimeter wave spectrum available for commercial use. At its open meeting this week, the FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes to create flexible use service rules in certain bands above 24 GHz to support multiple uses, including mobile wireless.

At the Brookings event, Lurie said one of the beautiful things about 5G is the Internet of Things is being considered in the standard. "The concept of low power, so when you talk about some of these sensors … these sensors, we want to have 10-year battery life," he said. "They use very little bit of data. Today we don't have that capability but in 5G, we hope there will be a layer of 5G that's low power, low usage, very simple, built really for IoT. That's exciting."

A lot of companies are involved in the standards processes, and when 3GPP makes the final decisions on the 5G standards, "then we'll have a lot to talk about," Lurie said.

For more:
- see this Brookings page

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