AT&T reveals 5G roadmap, schedules field trials

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/weerapatkiatdumrong)

The fifth generation of wireless technology, 5G, is the talk of the industry and we’ll be sure to report on all the latest developments from this year's Mobile World Congress later this month. Until then, you'll have to settle for welcome news that AT&T has revealed their roadmap for 5G, and that field trials are due to start before the year's end.

Ericsson is enabling AT&T to move beyond 5G lab tests to gain a greater understanding of 5G’s potential in their own network environments

5G will arguably be the most important standard yet. For consumers, they will be able to download things like films in seconds rather than minutes. For the industry, it will be used as the backbone for connected cars and the millions of devices connected via the IoT. AT&T believes its 5G network will deliver speeds an incredible 10 to 100 times faster than current 4G connections.  

“New experiences like virtual reality, self-driving cars, robotics, smart cities and more are about to test networks like never before,” said John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President, AT&T Technology and Operations. “These technologies will be immersive, pervasive and responsive to customers. 5G will help make them a reality." 

AT&T made the announcement on Friday, saying it will be working alongside partners Ericsson and Intel in the second quarter before launching field trials in Austin, Texas later in the year. Verizon, a major competitor, has also vowed to hold field tests at some point this year. 

“AT&T’s 5G field trials will play an important role in ensuring rapid and wide-scale adoption of this next generation mobile technology,” said Arun Bansal, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Unit Radio, Ericsson. “5G will impact the entire mobile network – from devices to access and core to cloud – and open up exciting new IoT applications for consumers and industry, so Ericsson is enabling AT&T to move beyond 5G lab tests to gain a greater understanding of 5G’s potential in their own network environments and markets.” 

5G isn't expected to be widely-available until 2020, according to expert predictions. The need for a faster and more reliable network is growing, however, and it's great to see field trials being conducted to ensure 5G is on track and ready before the end of 2020 to help support all the new technologies it will enable. 

“As early 5G development and trials get underway, industry collaboration is necessary to implement new network architectures and prepare for commercial availability,” said Aicha Evans, corporate vice president and general manager of the Intel Communication and Devices Group. “At Intel, we know that working with partners like AT&T and Ericsson is essential to bringing faster and more efficient wireless networks that will bring new and richer experiences to our lives.” 

Do you think 5G will be available by 2020? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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