AT&T (NYSE: T) said it is currently testing fixed wireless local loop (WLL) technology in select areas of the country with local residents who want to try the service, including in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Virginia, and is seeing speeds of around 15 to 25 Mbps.
"Our innovative fixed wireless program that delivers broadband through the air using base stations and fixed antennae on customers' homes or buildings can be a way to deliver high quality, high-speed Internet access service to customers living in rural areas," the carrier told FierceWireless. "We are unable to discuss future plans at this time but are excited about bringing additional Internet connectivity options to rural areas."
AT&T didn't provide much more detail on the tests. The carrier said the operation is part of its work with the FCC's Connect America Fund, where it said it will provide connectivity to over 1 million locations with speeds of at least 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. "We'll do that through a variety of options, one of which may be fixed wireless local loop, which is currently being trialed," the carrier said.
AT&T's fixed wireless local loop trials likely stem from the operator's acquisition of DirecTV, which closed earlier this year. As part of its proposal to acquire the company, AT&T promised to deploy fixed WLL to about 13 million rural customers across 48 states. However, fixed WLL was not included in the final conditions of the merger.
In AT&T's initial fixed WLL proposal, the carrier said its fixed WLL technology would make use of its wireless spectrum and LTE infrastructure through a 20 MHz (10x10 MHz paired uplink and downlink) configuration. AT&T in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year said fixed WLL will "provide consumers with a robust broadband experience, with speeds and usage comparable, and typically superior to, the best wireline services available in the areas in which the fixed WLL solution will be deployed."
The carrier added that the technology will even provide customers on the cell edge speeds faster than 10 Mbps more than 90 percent of the time.
AT&T noted that, unlike with its mobile wireless service, its fixed WLL service will require a technician to install a fixed WLL receiver at each customer's home.
AT&T also said that its fixed WLL network will serve largely rural areas with fewer than 250 people per square mile.
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Article updated Oct. 1 to correct information about AT&T's fixed WLL proposal and the actual final merger conditions of its deal with DirecTV.