The core of Nokia's business today consists of its networking division. The company supplies network infrastructure and development equipment to many carriers around the world, including America's second largest carrier, AT&T. AT&T, for their part, announced back in February that they have formed a technology partnership with Nokia and are currently testing 5G, or fifth generation, mobile networks. To date, this testing has exceeded 10 Gbps data transfer speeds. However, as regular readers will understand, the data transfer speed is only one part of what makes up a modern network cellular performance profile. The other part is how responsive that network is and here, AT&T have been talking about "latency trials" – that is, measuring how long the network takes to respond. A low latency network responds very quickly to customer demand and starts to transfer data sooner than a high latency network.
Currently, the international networking standard group, 3GPP, have not yet set down the agreed standard for 5G networking. In the detail of AT&T's announcement, the carrier talks about their 5G network as being capable of both working for North American customers as well as being able to contribute to international 5G standards development. The carrier says that they will be able to "pivot to compliant commercial deployments once standards are set by 3GPP." In other words, they are experimenting with the technology but it should be able to be adapted to work with the internationally agreed 3GPP standards. Unfortunately, we do not expect these fifth generation standards to be set down any time soon: AT&T believes that the 3GPP will complete the first stage of their standards setting exercise in 2018.
Meanwhile, the issue of not having an agreed 5G network standard is not likely to dampen AT&T's enthusiasm for the technology. It's being tested in Austin, Texas, Middletown New Jersey, Atlanta, and San Ramon. AT&T are believed to be advertising their new generation networking technology with signs that say something along the lines of, "we are testing 5G here and it's gonna be fast." As America's second largest carrier, AT&T cannot afford to lose ground when it comes to next generation technology although because the networks are likely to use much higher frequency signals, which have a shorter range, we are expecting the next generation of cellular network to be deployed rather differently.