AT&T Plans to Start Testing 5G Technologies in 2016

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The telecommunications company is taking the first steps into a brave new world, while warning customers to be patient. Find out why.

AT&T plans to start testing 5G technology this year.

The company recently announced that it plans to work with Ericsson and Intel, testing 5G technologies in AT&T labs during the second quarter of the year. Field trials are slated to follow before year-end in Austin, Texas.

A news release explains:

The trials will help guide our 5G standards contributions, and set the stage for widespread commercial and mobile availability once technology standards for 5G are established.

While 5G standards have yet to be set, AT&T expects 5G connections to provide speeds that are 10 to 100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE connections.

Whereas speeds are currently measured in megabits per second, or Mbps, 5G speeds will be measured in gigabits per second, or Gbps. According to AT&T, a speed of even 1 Gbps is fast enough to download a TV show in less than three seconds.

Latency will also be shortened to one to five milliseconds with 5G connections, AT&T explains. Latency refers to how long it takes for a video to start streaming on your device after you press the play button on a video app, for example.

John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president of AT&T Technology and Operations, says in the news release that 5G will also make emerging technologies — such as virtual reality, self-driving cars and robotics — a reality.

CNN Money reports that AT&T announced its 5G road map in response to “pressure from an increasingly competitive wireless market.” AT&T’s announcement follows Verizon’s announcement last year that it plans to start rolling out 5G technology by 2017, years earlier than industry experts had expected.

In a Dec. 30,2015, blog post, AT&T was critical of companies of other companies’ 5G announcements that spoke of deploying 5G technology so soon, however:

5G remains one of the most buzzed about topics in the wireless world. We’re an industry focused on the next big technological development, so it’s no surprise. However, it’s crucial to ground ourselves in a few truths from the get-go before we declare this the “Age of 5G.”

Let’s start with understanding the requirements. Some [companies] have been quick to claim plans to deploy 5G ahead of standards. However, those claims have been quite vague. … Even the most optimistic believe 5G standards completion is still years away.

What’s your take on 5G announcements from telecommunications companies? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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