AT&T announces plans for limited 5G launch this year


AT&T has announced their intention to be the first U.S. carrier to roll out limited commercially available 5G networks in a dozen domestic markets this year according to a press release from the company.

“We’re moving quickly to begin deploying mobile 5G this year and start unlocking the future of connectivity for consumers and businesses,” said Melissa Arnoldi, president of technology and operations.

In addition to 5G for consumers, AT&T also expects “to trial 5G technology with businesses of all sizes across industries.” The decreased latency could be a boon for technology such as self-driving cars and the health care industry.

The carrier attributed its decision in part to 3rd Generation Partnership Project’s (3GPP) release in December of the first industry-wide standards for 5G, while also taking partial credit for the development.

“To make this happen, we were one of the key drivers for standards acceleration last year,” read the press release, “This allows us to provide mobile 5G services sooner. We’re confident this latest standards milestone will allow us to bring 5G to market faster without compromising its long-term vision.”

3GPP expects to release the completed first phase of 5G standards in June.

Despite the tight timeline, Gordon Mansfield, AT&T’s vice president of RAN and device design, was optimistic at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas. Per an interview with SDxCentral, he believes that the “aggressive” 5G rollout will be easier than previous network upgrades.

“Anywhere there is a 5G radio, the 5G network will kick in,” he said. “This is much easier than previous technologies because the control plane is LTE.”

Additionally, while the carrier has not announced any vendors for the network or devices, AT&T may turn to smaller vendors, with Manfield saying “Nothing is off the table.”  Additional details on the planned rollout, including the twelve markets, have yet to be announced.




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