In a new blog post AT&T draws on its preparations for 5G deployment as evidence of how the carrier is well-equipped to not just roll out a 5G network, but one which has been extensively tested and is based upon a wealth of accumulated data. With AT&T summing up 5G deployment as not much different to playing a piano – it requires practice.
As part of the announcement, AT&T explains that after first starting 5G testing in Austin, Texas, it went on to expand to more areas including Waco, Texas, Kalamazoo, Michigan and South Bend in Indiana. All along the way collecting more usable data on how 5G networks perform and how susceptible they might be to certain additional factors. For example, in Waco, Texas, the carrier observed 1.2 Gbps speeds obtained by a retail location which was positioned at least 150 meters from the cell site. Along with latency rates in the same location totaling 9-12 milliseconds. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, AT&T notes it was able to collect data on how 5G mmWave signal performance might be impacted by different weather conditions, including rain and snow. With the data suggesting there were no notable effects on the signal regardless of the changes in weather. While in South Bend, Indiana, AT&T was able to establish a more robust and fuller 5G testing platform and see gigabit wireless speeds in both line of sight and non-line of sight conditions.
These examples are being used by AT&T as a means to further highlight that in spite of fully intending "to be the first U.S. carrier" to roll out its 5G solution to its customers, it has not taken a shortcut approach as a means to be the first. On that note, the announcement once again looked to confirm that in addition to launching the needed framework for 5G this year, the company also plans on making available a "5G-capable device" this year. Although the post does not go into specifics on this device, previous comments by AT&T representatives have largely confirmed a '5G puck-like' device will be what is offered at first as a means to bridge the gap before the first 5G-enabled smartphones arrive – likely in 2019.