While it is true that most of the early 5G tests conducted by mobile operators have so far revolved around fixed wireless, AT&T (just like Verizon Wireless) is planning to further hold 5G mobility tests using millimeter wave spectrum in 2018. As revealed by Dave Wolter, the AVP of Radio Technology and Strategy at AT&T Labs, the second biggest wireless carrier in the United States has already begun conducting mobility testing and even setting up more test bed capability in the city of Austin in Texas.
In its upcoming mobility tests, AT&T is exploring ways in which millimeter wave systems can be put to effective use in fast moving vehicles. Other countries like Japan and China have already started holding similar trials. AT&T, however, is looking to explore more extensively, especially in terms of achieving multiple vendor implementations and multiple handoffs. In other words, it wants to determine how far it can go when it comes to interoperability of 5G mobility.
AT&T is eager to see the results of its upcoming trials next year, and will no doubt take its learnings back into the 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) to help in the development of the standards to be used in bringing the 5G era into life. Earlier today, members of the 3GPP had formalized the Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) specification. Many consider this standard to become the basis on which wireless service providers will build their own 5G offerings. Still, this spec is only part of the overall Release 15, the Stand Alone (SA) version of which should be completed by June of next year. Release 16 is expected to be finished by December 2019.
As for AT&T, the major US wireless carrier is aiming to start debuting its standards based 5G offering as early as the second half of next year. The company adjusted its 5G timeline after more than 40 signatories had voted earlier this year to accelerate the non-standalone implementation of 5G NR. Expediting the implementation would help immensely in allowing service providers to conduct big scale testing and even start deployments of their 5G services based on the 3GPP spec.
Just this week, AT&T had revealed that it had commenced 5G testing in the city of Waco in Texas, forging a partnership with Magnolia. In the Waco trials, the carrier deployed a 5G millimeter wave system at the Magnolia Market at the Silos, which should provide distributed connections to the area’s daily traffic of employees and visitors (which could number up to 5,000 in any given day).
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