AT&T Labs is already testing base stations and antennas in the 28 GHz band in several locations, and now it wants to expand those tests to the 37 and 39 GHz bands.
The test markets include Waco, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana. The operator was granted FCC permission in August to conduct the 28 GHz tests through August 2019, and it wants to add the additional bands through the remainder of the license term.
In its application materials with the FCC, AT&T said tests performed under this experimental license will provide information for optimizing system parameters being discussed in 5G standard activities and provide data on coverage, capacity, latency and other key performance indices.
“Applicant will use this data to study potential designs for its 5G systems, contribute to 3GPP 5G standards development, and gain insight into customer perception and use patterns,” AT&T Labs said.
AT&T announced in August that it would be expanding its fixed wireless 5G trials to business and residential customers in Waco, Kalamazoo and South Bend by the end of this year. Already in Austin, Texas, it reported seeing speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second and latency rates well under 10 milliseconds.
Universities, hospitals, churches, restaurants and other small businesses have been among those invited to participate in trials; in a car wash business in Austin, for instance, the owner boasted about giving customers the chance to trial 5G in the waiting room.
AT&T said the channel bandwidth in its 37 and 39 GHz trials will be multiples of 100 MHz, up to a maximum of 800 MHz, using a Time Division Duplex scheme for uplink and downlink transmission. The air interface protocol will be vendor-specific prototypes based on LTE-Advanced protocols as well as the required improvements and modifications for the 5G system. Transmissions will include common multimedia data as well as high-speed internet access for on-demand video and online gaming.
Earlier this year, AT&T quietly acquired a company called FiberTower, which has spectrum in the 39 GHz band, but Verizon won a bidding war for Straight Path Communications, which covers the entire nation with 39 GHz spectrum.
Verizon also closed on its acquisition of XO Communications earlier in the year, winning the right to lease XO’s 102 LMDS licenses in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands.