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We’ve been doing it for two years so of course we’re the best – AT&T on 5G

Cheerful students with thumbs up

AT&T has offered a bit of insight into 5G trials which have taken place over the last two years, suggesting it will be the best because of them. Of course, no one else has been doing trials so we can fully understand the logic.

“It’s no coincidence that AT&T is aiming to be the first US carrier to launch standards-based, mobile 5G services to customers this year,” boasts Melissa Arnoldi, President of AT&T Technology & Operations. “We’ve been ‘practicing’ for this moment for almost two years.”

The brag comes off the back of three trials which took place in Waco, Texas, Kalamazoo, Michigan and South Bend, Indiana. After these trials, the team is now confident it has all the answers necessary to deploy a 5G network that ‘works for people all over the country’. We’re sceptical, but here are the findings.

In Waco the trial focused on small and medium sized businesses, providing 5G mmWave service to a retail location more than 150 meters away from the cell site. Speeds hit 1.2 Gbps in a 400 MHz channel, with latency rates at 9-12 milliseconds, supporting ‘hundreds’ of simultaneous connected users.

In Kalamazoo the team observed no impact on 5G mmWave signal performance due to rain, snow or other weather events, while the signal can pass through foliage, glass and even walls better than initially anticipated. The team also observed 1 Gbps speeds under line of sight conditions up to 900 feet.

Finally, in South Bend the team created a full end-to-end 5G network architecture, including the 5G radio system and core, demonstrating extremely low latency. Gigabit wireless speeds on mmWave spectrum in both line of sight and some non-line of sight conditions were also demonstrated.

While it does seem like a bit of an ego-boosting back-slapping exercise from the team, each of the trials did demonstrate takeaways when it comes to deploying a network. These are of course very limited exercises, the real world will pose a significantly greater challenge, though it is a good starting point. Now it is down to doing not just preaching; the telcos need to prove that they are capable of creating the network and experience which they have been promising for so many years.

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