AT&T Uses Small Cells to Test 5G Prototypes Around the Country


The town of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, may not initially seem like a hot bed of new technologies. It’s a simple town, an old fashioned and peaceful community tucked away right in the middle of the nation. But the town also just became one of the forefront for wireless, nation-wide; AT&T has been preparing a series of Small Cell devices around the town and, using the Small Cells to power digital output, Broken Arrow will soon be the first town in the state to have an early stage 5G prototype wireless network as the foundation of 5G standards begins to take shape. And although 5G standards have yet to be developed, one consistent thread is they will likely contain small cells as the backbone of network operations.

Installed alongside pre-existing phone lines and buildings, the Small Cells improve existing LTE wireless speeds and access for surrounding areas of roughly two city blocks from each Cell. These devices are being installed all around the city, helping bring better access to residents across the town. AT&T has set their sights on installing Small Cell devices around the country for a few years now, investing roughly $22 billion in 2013 towards the expansion of Small Cells around the nation, with the first ones going online last year. But with the onset of 5G ahead of us, many towns are being prepared with Small Cells that can help to deal with the level of coverage necessary for the upcoming public demand.

These same Cells are being installed in other major cities around the country, such as San Francisco (where testing has already proven successful). But by bringing the devices to a town like Broken Arrow, the company is getting the chance to see the kind of effect the expanded wireless capability will have on small towns across America. Even after pulling some of their initial support for Small Cells following their acquisition of Leap Wireless, the wireless carrier still believes that Small Cells could be the key to easily accessible 5G in more remote locations. This could be how we connect more rural areas with the rest of the world, and help expand the limits of what wireless can provide citizens across the country.

Just for an example of how this improved coverage can have a positive output, we look back at the northern Oklahoma town of Broken Arrow. Technicians have been preparing Small cells to assist with the up and coming technological district – otherwise known as the Broken Arrow Innovation District – for the last few months, helping bring a mix of high-tech manufacturing, housing, and education to the town. It makes sense then for AT&T to invest in the area, giving the residents of the town the wireless capabilities they’ll need for each concern those fields would require and to see what kind of equipment and capacity they’ll need to install across the country when 5G technologies are standardized and ready for wide-scale deployment. It’s the kind of capabilities that the country needs to continue growing, and the results from initial testing in these locations – both major cities and smaller towns – are promising.



About Brandon Zachary

Brandon Zachary is the editor and head writer for - helping you keep posted on the newest shifts and changes in the world of telecommunications and wireless technology.