AT&T files to conduct 3.5 GHz tests in Washington, D.C., with Ericsson gear

Washington DC (Pixabay)
Plans call for testing 5G systems operating in the 3.5 GHz band inside a building in Washington, D.C.

AT&T Services is asking the FCC for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to conduct 5G tests using experimental equipment in the 3.5 GHz band.

AT&T wants to conduct the tests for one month, starting Feb. 1, 2018. Ericsson is listed on the application as the manufacturer providing four experimental units.

Noting that the 3GPP is developing 5G standards that are expected for release beginning in 2018, AT&T said (PDF) the demonstrations using the STA will provide valuable information, which it can then feed into future standards and system optimizations.

Under AT&T’s plan, the demonstrations will take place at a building in Washington that has concrete walls and windows with coated glass. The 5G wireless link will be established between the base station and mobile user equipment (UE) located in the same room or area as the base station. The base station and UE will operate within about 3 meters above floor level in the building.

An internet service provider will provide internet access for the purposes of the 5G demos using various applications and web servers, and the UEs will provide services to various devices through Wi-Fi access points connected to the UE through Ethernet cable, the narrative states.

RELATED: AT&T taking wait-and-see approach to CBRS as rules still in limbo

The demonstrations match up with what Gordon Mansfield, vice president of RAN and Device Design at AT&T, told FierceWirelessTech back in September at the Mobile World Congress Americas trade show. Basically, AT&T is taking a wait-and-see approach to the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) band—not for lack of interest but for clear and final guidelines from the FCC. Once the rules are defined, AT&T will be pretty quick to communicate its strategy, he said at the time.

No doubt, tests like the one proposed in D.C. will inform its strategy as well.

The 3.5 GHz band is used in other parts of the world, but in the U.S., it’s teed up to be governed by a three-tiered spectrum authorization framework to accommodate a variety of commercial uses on a shared basis with incumbent federal and nonfederal users of the band. The FCC is currently considering changing the rules governing parts of the system. 

Certification of CBRS devices is a fundamental step needed for the launch and commercialization of the band, and the Wireless Innovation Forum (WInnForum) just announced the selection of CTIA as the manager of the WInnForum’s equipment CBRS certification program. CTIA was awarded a three-year contract.