AT&T Promotes Its 3 Pillars for Business 5G

AT&T is highlighting "three pillars" of its 5G strategy design as a "toolbox" to help businesses adopt the new technology.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) says that fixed wireless, edge computing and its newly announced nationwide 5G network are the initial pillars for a corporate 5G strategy. The operator says that it will cater for a broad diversity of enterprise needs -- from connecting a single location to connecting smart facilities with technologies like AI -- with its 5G business strategy. (See AT&T's New Nationwide, Mobile 5G Timeline.)

AT&T’s nationwide mobile 5G launch is expected in "early 2020" on "sub-6GHz" frequencies, with cities coming online in the second half of 2020. The operator already has mobile 5G in parts of 12 US cities now, using the 39GHz millimeter wave band. Currently, AT&T is only offering its only 5G compatible device -- the Netgear Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGR) Nighthawk 5G hotspot -- to select businesses. It will be available to the wider public in the spring at $499. (See AT&T's 5G Switches On in 12 US Cities, but Only for 'Early Adopters' and AT&T's Nighthawk 5G: Potential Download Could Cover a Wide Range of Speeds.)

AT&T says it will have two standards-based 5G mobile smartphones available from Samsung Corp. by the second half of this year. AT&T is highlighting that enterprise customers will be able to seamlessly connect to WiFi, 4G LTE and 5G. (See AT&T Low-Band 5G to Arrive With Samsung Phone in 2H19.)

AT&T also says it is ready to ramp up its 4G-based fixed wireless service offerings soon. "In the coming weeks, we will offer multiple speed tiers up to 50Mbps," the operator said in a statement Monday. The 50-Mbit/s top speeds will be based on the LTE-Advanced updates that AT&T is rolling out across 400 markets on its 4G network. (See AT&T's Donovan Defends the Carrier's 5G Fibs and Verizon, AT&T Spar Over 5G Service Names, Marketing.)

The operator says fixed wireless builds on AT&T’s fiber operations, which it says passes within 1000 feet of 8 million business customer locations in the US now, and connects 2.2 million locations. Fixed wireless will allow businesses to deploy new locations and applications quickly, AT&T says. The operator adds that its current fixed wireless offerings help "lay the groundwork for our customers to upgrade and take advantage of AT&T 5G when it’s available in their area."

Unlike Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), AT&T hasn’t focused much on fixed wireless in regard to 5G now. Verizon launched its "Home 5G" fixed service in October, using its own 5GTF specification, rather than waiting for the 5G New Radio specification. (See 3GPP NR Spec Delay Will Not Affect Initial 5G Launches.)

The final leg of this 5G stool, Ma Bell says, is edge computing, which allows enterprises to process low-latency, high-bandwidth through on-premises cellular equipment. Compatible with 5G and working with 4G LTE, AT&T is selling its MFoundry Test ulti-Edge Access Edge Computing (MEC) platform now.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, AT&T talked about forthcoming enterprise tests of edge computing applications at its AT&T Foundry test center in Plano, Texas. (See AT&T Expands Edge Computing Testing to Enterprise Use Cases.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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