AT&T is sharing a little more information about its 5G trials: Today, it announced that its trial in Waco, Texas, will involve Magnolia, marking AT&T’s largest 5G trial with a home and lifestyle brand.
The 5G millimeter wave system deployed at the Magnolia Market and adjoining space at the Silos in Waco will include distributed connections to serve the roughly 5,000 people that visit each day. The area includes the Magnolia Market, Magnolia Seed and Supply, a food truck park and Silos Baking Co.
By logging onto Wi-Fi from their mobile devices, visitors and employees at the Silos will be some of the first to experience the 5G trial service.
"This is a meaningful and important step in bringing our 5G fixed wireless trials to Waco starting with the Silos," said Marachel Knight, senior vice president, technology planning and engineering, AT&T, in the press release. "Taking our 5G tests out of the lab and into real, high-traffic environments like the Silos will bring a fantastic customer experience while helping us learn even more about building a 5G network of the future for both consumers and businesses."
AT&T said it will be testing 5G radio and antenna prototypes during the trial in Waco, in addition to using its network function virtualization platform, AT&T FlexWareSM, as the router. The operator also plans to expand the trial to additional trial participants in Waco, which may include small businesses, residential customers, churches and large educational institutions.
Magnolia is a home and lifestyle brand based in Waco that was created by HGTV stars Joanna Gaines and her husband Chip. What began as the "Little Shop on Bosque" evolved to include the Magnolia Market, Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Construction, Magnolia Realty, the Silos Baking Co., Magnolia Table, and a lifestyle magazine, the Magnolia Journal.
AT&T announced in August that it would be expanding its fixed wireless 5G trials to businesses and residential customers in Waco, as well as in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and South Bend, Indiana, by the end of this year. Already in Austin, Texas, it has reported seeing speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second and latency rates well under 10 milliseconds.
Earlier this month, AT&T Labs applied to extend 28 GHz tests to include the 37 and 39 GHz bands in Waco, in addition to Kalamazoo and South Bend. That application is still pending with the FCC. The operator was granted FCC permission in August to conduct the 28 GHz tests through August 2019.
Last month at the the FierceWireless Next-Gen Wireless Networks Summit in Dallas, Verizon Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer shared some of the things the operator has learned in its 5G fixed wireless trials in 11 markets, including that millimeter wave propagates a little better than they thought in terms of line of sight and elevation. They had assumed, for example, that they could get to the 6th floor of an apartment or office building, but tests showed they were able to get up as high as the 19th floor or so.