Q&A with Sinan Akkaya, Director of RAN Engineering, AT&T

Please tell us a little about AT&T’s progress towards 5G.

Mobile 5G is on its way. We plan to offer it to customers in a dozen cities by the end of the year. And parts of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas, are first up, with additional city announcements in the coming months. This is standards-based, mobile 5G we’re talking about.

We’re also working on an accelerated schedule with vendors to help ensure customers can enjoy 5G when we launch. AT&T has promised to deliver this ground-breaking technology – standards-based, mobile 5G – to our customers in 2018.

How will we see existing RAN architecture evolve as the industry moves towards 5G networks?

5G and software-defined networks (SDN) naturally go hand in hand. A virtualized and software-defined network lets you develop, deploy and protect new network applications faster than with a hardware-based model.

What role will Cloud RAN play in the introduction of 5G services?

We’re on the most aggressive network virtualization path that we know of in our industry, with a plan to virtualize 75% of our network by 2020. Our goal in 2017 was 55%, and we hit that mark.

By leading the industry transformation, our customers will get the most out of 5G, including, at some point, experiences with augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR), future autonomous cars and delivery drones. What’s needed for these experiences to become reality is mobile 5G, powered by SDN and edge computing. We’re making the cloud smarter, faster and local.

What are your industry predictions for 2018?

5G trials and first commercial applications will be in the market and small cell \ densification efforts will become more critical. 5G deployments this year will be based on 3GPP standards and operate over mmWave spectrum. We will use mmWave to provide mobile 5G in some areas, and then we will deploy the technology on additional spectrum bands.

What is your key message at 5G North America this year?

We expect to reach theoretical peak speeds of multiple gigabits per second on devices through mobile 5G. While speed is important, we also expect to see much lower latency rates. With higher speeds and lower latency rates, our mobile 5G network will eventually unlock a number of new, exciting experiences for our customers. Be ready!


Sinan Akkaya will be speaking on the panel on The Evolution of RAN taking place at 5G North America 2018, May 14-16, in Austin, Texas.

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