AT&T is readying three tests of standardized next-generation technology -- on ultra-high band frequencies -- ahead of its anticipated launch of mobile 5G networks in parts of 12 US markets by the end of 2018.
On October 4, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for experimental licenses to test the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio standard in Atlanta, Hawaii and Los Angeles. The Atlanta and California tests have already been approved. AT&T is running the tests to get more data on the operational use of high-speed and low-latency capabilities of 5G NR.
AT&T is using 28GHz millimeter wave (or potentially 39GHz in Hawaii) for the tests. Ma Bell has already reported download speeds of over 1 Gbit/s in previous tests. Millimeter wave, however, doesn't support coverage range of lower frequencies, with AT&T testing at a distance of up to 100 meters. (See AT&T 5G Tests Go Gaga for Gigabit.)
The tests, however, don't appear to be using mobile 5G infrastructure yet. AT&T lists fixed 3GPP-compliant units for the Atlanta and Hawaii tests.
"Applicant's 5G demonstrations will involve communications between up to 3 fixed (FX) base stations and up to 10 user equipment (UE) units placed within 100 meters of the base station antennas," says AT&T in a letter of plans for indoor tests at an event to be held at the Grand Wailea resort facilities in Hawaii, with a license required between November 1 and the end of the year.
The license in Atlanta is to support outdoor stadium tests of the system at Georgia International Plaza for the month of November, and around a game on November 18.
The Los Angeles license involves a collaborative test on the campus on the University of Southern California, with permission required between November 15 and December 20.
AT&T has said it will launch mobile 5G late this year in parts of 12 markets in the US. (See AT&T's 'Mobile' 5G: What the Puck? and AT&T Adds New 5G Cities, Names Infrastructure Vendors.)
If you want a picture of early 5G deployment plans in the US, check: 5G in the USA: A Post-MWCA Update.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading