AT&T & Verizon Plot (Sort Of) Mobile 5G Demos & Trials

Both AT&T and Verizon are ready to demonstrate, or trial, initial applications of mobile 5G connectivity using 28GHz technology and have applied to the FCC for permission to do so.

AT&T plans to show off "mobile" 5G over 100 meters to compatible user equipment, and then demonstrate feeding the 28GHz signal via WiFi to user devices at a gaming show. Verizon, meanwhile, says it wants to undertake tests that use its fixed wireless network to deliver 5G signals to mobile devices.

Essentially, both operators want to test the suitability of the 28GHz band for 5G mobile capabilities, albeit using fixed wireless elements to do so. Fixed wireless trials have so far shown that the technology can deliver gigabit or near-gigabit speeds at distances of up to 2,000 feet, but there is much less information available on how mobile services would perform. (See Verizon's Fixed 5G: A Cable Alternative Is Coming! and Samsung on Millimeter Wave 5G for Verizon & More.)

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has been granted permission by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to show off a "mobile" 28GHz demonstration at the E3 gaming show in Los Angeles next month. The demonstration will use three basestations and three user equipment (UE) units placed within 100 meters of the basestation antennas.

"The base station(s) will have connectivity to an internal server providing content over the 5G air interface for these demonstrations," AT&T noted. "The UE(s) can provide services to various devices through Wi-Fi access points connected to the UE(s) via Ethernet cabling."

Note that AT&T is calling the demonstration "mobile" within "100 meters" of the basestation. The operator has promised to deliver mobile 5G in up 12 US markets by the end of the year. Since there are no mobile 5G NR-compatible devices yet available, however, AT&T will distribute the indoor 5G signal via a wired connection to Wi-Fi routers. (See AT&T Reveals Initial 5G Cities, AT&T 5G Tests Go Gaga for Gigabit and AT&T Wants a Mobile 5G Test in Burbank.)

Verizon Wireless , meanwhile, is requesting an extension of its market trials in Ann Arbor, Mich. and Bernardsville, N.J., to test "fixed base stations and mobile terminals operating in the 28 GHz band."

Verizon has said that it will offer a fixed 1-Gbit/s 5G service in three to five markets in the US in the fourth quarter. The operator has always said that it would be able to re-use much of the fixed infrastructure after a software update for mobile 5G. (See Verizon: We'll Be First With Fixed & Mobile 5G.)

If the FCC approves the experimental license update, the operator appears to be gearing up to test such functionality.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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