AT&T seeks authority to conduct 5G demo in Austin

Austin, Texas

AT&T plans to conduct an indoor demonstration related to 5G during the Texas Wireless Summit in Austin, Texas, this October. The operator wants the FCC to grant an experimental license for one week so AT&T can conduct a demonstration at the event in the 28 GHz range.

AT&T’s application for the license said that the demonstration at the Edgar A. Smith Building and the expected experimental equipment would support potential 5G "multi-gigabyte per second (Gbps) applications for fixed and mobile wireless communication networks at higher transmission rates and lower latency" than is currently available.

The reference to mobile is notable given much of the attention thus far has been around making millimeter wave spectrum work for fixed wireless. Generally, it’s easier to make fixed wireless work at higher bands than mobility, but mobility is on the road map as well.

At the Brooklyn 5G Summit earlier this year, AT&T SVP of Wireless Network Architecture and Design Tom Keathley said the operator would start tests this summer in Austin at 15 GHz and then move to 28 GHz, with the focus predominantly on fixed wireless. "A main aim is to find out how millimeter wave technology works and then we'll pour back the learnings into the standards work," he said at the time.

During a recent appearance at an investor event, Keathley said AT&T’s 5G tests, conducted with Ericsson and Intel in a 15 GHz system in its Austin labs, produced download speeds of 14 Gbps to a single user and, with multi-user MIMO, 5 Gbps to two users. 

Austin has been a hotbed for wireless technology R&D and it’s where NYU Wireless founder Ted Rappaport created the academic wireless research center at the University of Texas before establishing the institution in Brooklyn. He and his students have conducted pioneering research into millimeter wave technology and encouraged the FCC to unleash tons of millimeter wave spectrum so the U.S. would be a leader in 5G rather than falling behind other parts of the world.

At the Texas Wireless Summit in October, AT&T Labs’ Director of Wireless Communications Arunabha Ghosh is scheduled to present. Ghosh leads a team of researchers responsible for developing technology related to 5G, such as massive MIMO, self-backhauling ultra-dense network and millimeter wave tech.

The theme of this year’s show is how automated vehicles will re-shape wireless over the next 10 years. The event is hosted by the University of Texas at Austin’s Wireless Networking and Communications Group (WNCG).

AT&T wants to begin conducting the demonstration in Austin to allow for trials before the 3GPP 5G standards are finalized in the 2018-2019 time period, suggesting the operator will share results of its experiments to help shape the standards. That's something AT&T executives have previously said they planned to do.

For more:
- see this FCC application

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