AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon ring in new year with 5G hoopla

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The 5G race is intensifying in the US as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon made separate announcements highlighting their latest 5G plans.

AT&T said on Thursday it expects to introduce 5G services in a dozen markets by late 2018 – and claims it will be the first cellco in the US to do so.

The company announcement is short on details and long on promoting its technological prowess and the standard 5G pitch (faster speeds and ultra-low latency, virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video, etc). AT&T did say it has been “laying the foundation for mobile 5G with the launch of 5G Evolution” in 23 major metros, as well as its pre-standard 5G fixed wireless trials in four cities with residential, small business, and education customers.

AT&T credited its accelerated timetable in part to the finalization of the first 5G NR specs by the 3GPP last month.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile Nokia and Intel said they had brought a 28-GHz outdoor 5G commercial radio system on air in the downtown corridor of Bellevue, Washington.

A data session was conducted on a 28 GHz radio in a field test environment using the Nokia 5G commercial AirScale solution and the 5G Mobile Trial Platform (MTP) from Intel, enabling T-Mobile to deploy its first inter-vendor 5G network.

Nokia said the trial is a first step in moving 5G development from labs into the field, expanding 5G mmWave radio performance and propagation testing into real world environment. The test also allows T-Mobile and Nokia to understand how mmWave based 5G can be integrated with existing networks and how it co-exists with LTE.

And finally, Samsung Electronics America announced that it has been selected to supply Verizon with commercial 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) network solutions. The two companies will begin by launching commercial 5G services in Sacramento, California in the second half of 2018.

Samsung and Verizon began 5G customer trials last year across seven US cities to test and verify 5G performance using mmWave bands to provide FWA pre-commercial service. Among the results:

  • A single 5G radio was able to reach the 19thfloor of a multi-dwelling unit
  • Broadband service was achieved in line of sight (LOS), partial LOS and non-LOS connections
  • Environmental factors, including rain and snow, did not interrupt services.

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