AT&T has recently launched its second 5G network trial in the city of Austin, Texas. This new trial focuses on developing standards and network configurations for fixed wireless 5G networks in order to deliver improved data speeds and decreased latency. To test how well AT&T's 5G test network performs, the carrier will deliver its premium streaming service, DIRECTV NOW, through its fixed wireless network. Not only should the network deliver improved streaming experience, but it should also maintain high data speeds the entire time. In order to accomplish this trial effort, the carrier enlisted the help of two equipment suppliers, Ericsson and Intel. The former provided AT&T with its 5G radio access network architecture while Intel provided its Mobile Trial Platform, which allows the carrier to test its network for different use cases.
In order to deliver increased data speeds, the company is utilizing the millimeter wave (mmWave) technology. The said technology utilizes the 60GHz band and other extremely high-frequency bands. The increased bandwidth afforded by high frequencies in turn allows the network to offer 1Gbps download speed to its customers. In addition, the 5G technology is designed to deliver decreased latency which will allow the mobile data networks to carry critical data from sensors and IoT devices. Since it is expected that video streaming will continue to corner a lion share of the mobile data traffic in the near future, the information coming from the said tests could also help in the future roll-out of mobile 5G data connections.
While standards have not been finalized, the group responsible for the development of 5G standards, the 3GPP, has targeted to finish the 5G New Radio standards for mobile broadband access by the year 2019. However, the lack of standards has not stopped the carriers from investing in their networks in preparation for the roll-out of 5G networks. In addition to deploying test beds in numerous locations across the country, carriers are also investing on network backhaul, base station upgrades, and small cell deployment. By the time that the network upgrades and 5G technology roll-outs are completed, it is estimated that the major wireless carriers would have spent at least $21 billion.