AT&T's Lurie: Let's get 5G standards 'before we start hyping' the technology

AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) CEO Glenn Lurie has a message for everyone that is excited to get ahead on 5G network development, with promises to bring pre-standard 5G technologies to the market: cool your jets.

"We're not at a point to be making promises or commitments to customers as to what 5G is," Lurie told CNET last week at CTIA'S Super Mobility conference. "We as an industry have been really good at overpromising and underdelivering when it comes to new technology."

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) made waves last week when it announced it was working with partners Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Cisco, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Samsung to test 5G in the company's innovation centers in Waltham, Mass., and San Francisco. The technology field trials are expected to begin in 2016. Verizon expects to have "some level of commercial deployment" in 2017, CNET notes, three years ahead of 2020 -- when many industry experts expects standardized 5G networks to start to be deployed.

AT&T is not looking to talk much publicly about its 5G plans, mainly because it thinks the technologies that will make up a 5G network are still being developed and fine-tuned. Moreover, since the technologies are not standardized, which will likely not happen until 2018 and 2019, it's premature to discuss the benefits to users.

"Let's make sure that before we start hyping what it's going to be, that those standards are agreed to," Lurie said. He added that AT&T is working with the industry to develop 5G standards.

Verizon defended its announcement. "Innovation happens when you're willing to look at things a little differently than others, and you're willing to put in the hard work to make your vision a reality," a Verizon spokesman told CNET.

Indeed, Adam Koeppe, Verizon's vice president of network technology and planning, said last week Verizon's goal for next year is take the work on some 5G technologies and test them in the field in real-world networks as quickly as possible -- even though there is no clear definition of which technologies 5G will ultimately include. 

Koeppe said Verizon wants to "kick the tires and start understanding different paths our partners [are] going down to develop 5G technology." Speaking at FierceWireless' breakfast panel, "Behind the 5G Crusade: How to Define and Deliver the Next Generation of Wireless," held in conjunction with  Super Mobility, he said Verizon is going to test different wave forms and air interfaces, and that the carrier wants to "leverage that innovation and really be at the forefront of trying it out in the field."

"We just don't want to wait for 2020 to have an idea of what this should become, how this should be used and how it can benefit the customers," Koeppe added.

Koeppe also said that Verizon is going to be focused on "finding business problems and customer problems to solve" and that Verizon will deploy pre-standardized 5G technologies if it needs to ahead of final standards to solve those problems. 

"We are all aligned with Verizon to ensure the success and leading position for the U.S.," Rima Qureshi, Ericsson's chief strategy officer, told CNET.

For more:
- see this CNET article

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