AT&T 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. Absent from AT&T’s list of partners, however, are Verizon, T-Mobile US and Sprint, which are all engaging in various 5G tests this year. Verizon has said it hopes to roll out commercial fixed 5G services as early as next year.
“We’re joining other tech leaders to find and resolve key standards issues early and bring 5G to market sooner,” said Tom Keathley, AT&T’s SVP for wireless network architecture and design, in a release from the operator. “Interim and fragmented pre-standard specifications can distract from the ultimate goal. Linking trials to the standards process is the fastest path to large-scale global 5G deployment.”
AT&T said it is in “preliminary discussions” with the various operators and vendors to “align on 5G.”
“In 5G trials, AT&T is accelerating over-the-air interoperability testing based on standards developed under the 3GPP New Radio (NR) specifications,” the operator said in its release. “The trials are designed to easily evolve with future versions of the official 5G standards, a milestone 3GPP targets for 2018. Focusing on the NR standards helps ensure the technology will work correctly with any future 3GPP 5G NR updates.”
During an appearance at an investor event last week, Keathley said AT&T’s 5G tests, conducted with Ericsson and Intel in a 15 GHz system, produced download speeds of 14 Gbps to a single user and, with multi-user MIMO, 5 Gbps to two users. The tests were conducted at the operator’s labs in Austin. AT&T later this year plans to test a 28 GHz system.
To be clear, AT&T isn’t the only U.S. carrier conducting 5G tests and inking partnerships to roll out the technology. For example, Verizon reported in February that its early 5G tests topped 10 Gbps and delivered 4K video while moving. And in May, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said that the carrier's 5G tests in its Basking Ridge, New Jersey, headquarters have shown speeds of up to 1.8 Gbps. At the time, he hinted that the range of that service could reach up to 1,000 meters.
And just last week, Verizon and Korean mobile operator SK Telecom signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to conduct joint studies and advance the standardization process for 5G.
Sprint and T-Mobile too have discussed their own efforts to test initial 5G technologies.
- see this AT&T release