AT&T Expands 5G Testing With Nokia

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AT&T is expanding its 5G wireless connectivity testing, and Nokia is lending a hand.

The carrier is conducting system and software architecture lab work in Middletown, N.J., Atlanta, Ga., and San Ramon, Calif. That comes after it announced a February partnership with Ericsson and Intel to begin work on 5G solutions in the second quarter, with plans for outdoor trials over the summer and tests at fixed locations in Austin, Texas before the end of this year.

"We've seen great results in our 5G lab trials, including reaching speeds above 10 gigabits per second in early tests with Ericsson," Tom Keathley, senior vice president of AT&T wireless network architecture and design, said in a statement.

The company is also simulating real-world situations—increased amounts of data transmission during a concert or sporting event, for example—which lets it test advancements like connectivity signal performance, reliability, range, and coverage.

With 5G, customers will be able to download a TV show in fewer than three seconds, and avoid dreaded latency between pressing play and streaming.

The technolgoy may also find its way into self-driving cars. The network's multi-gigabit speeds and very low latency will enable vehicles to quickly communicate with other connected objects on the roads, AT&T said.

Nokia is supplying test equipment. It's also helping AT&T test millimeter wave (mmWave) technology, which takes advantage of radio frequencies that have very little traffic, making them perfectly suited to support millimeter waves that can deliver extremely high speeds, possibly gigabit levels. MmWave will "play a key role in 5G development and deployment," Keathley said.

By the end of this summer, AT&T expects to begin outdoor 5G wireless connectivity trials at fixed locations in Austin and Middletown, New Jersey. Before a formal rollout of 5G can begin, however, industry standards must be developed, the first phase of which is expected in 2018.

"The work coming out of AT&T Labs will pave the way toward future international 5G standards and allow us to deliver these fast 5G speeds and network performance across the US," Keathley added.

Earlier this year, there were reports that Google is testing millimeter wave technology for high-speed Internet access. Facebook is also reportedly researching networks that use extremely high-frequency bands.

Verizon last fall announced upcoming field technology trials with Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung. The company has already created 5G network environments, or "sandboxes," in its Waltham Mass., and San Francisco Innovation Centers.

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