AT&T launches first 5G trial

US carrier AT&T has now launched what it believes as the first business customer trial of 5G wireless technology, promising to bring gigabit-level Internet speeds to smartphones in the long run. AT&T previously worked with Ericsson to conduct the company’s first public 5G demo, which handled 4K video streaming and real-time camera feeds in speeds of up to 14 Gbps. AT&T has taken the 5G technology it worked on with Ericsson and Intel to begin field tests aimed to mirror real-world situations once it hopefully becomes mainstream. “We’re leaving the lab and heading into the field with a real-world business customer,” said Rick Hubbard, senior VP for AT&T Networking Product Management.

Like Verizon, AT&T is using millimetre wave technology, with the 5G wireless network working inside one of Intel’s offices in Austin, Texas. The company seems to have lived up to its word earlier this year when it announced that it would start field trials of 5G wireless technology by the end of 2016. According to AT&T, 5G is able to reach speeds 10 to 100 times faster than current 4G networks. During the trial, AT&T will test enterprise proof of concept scenarios, such as Internet access, VPN and 4K video streaming. The trials are also poised to feature the potential of voice over IP over the 15 GHz and 28 GHz spectrum bands. 4K video seems to be AT&T’s pressing interest, as it opines that the future of mobile is video.

“Mobile video streaming continues to be a vital aspect of our 5G work, and this trial gives us an opportunity to test 4K HD video streaming across further physical distances between pieces of equipment,” said Tom Keathley, senior VP for wireless network architecture and design at AT&T. Will 5G Arrive Soon? Despite the promising ring of 5G, the technology isn’t exactly a stone’s throw away from present-day use. While word-of-mouth hype for the new wireless technology spells fortune for its eventual availability, this urgency may prove detrimental in its lurch forward.

“Releasing 5G before it’s fully finished could undermine the technology’s usefulness and increase how much you’ll have to pay to get it,” said CNET’s Stephen Shankland. Interestingly, high Internet speed isn’t the only main improvement that will come with 5G networks. The technology is also being designed for low latency, which is useful for fast reaction times direly needed by autonomous cars. The specification for 5G is slated for completion in 2019, with the first commercial deployments beginning 2020.