AT&T network focused on spectrum, 5G, small cells; plans for IoT
May 13, 2016
Speaking at the Jefferies Technology Conference this week, Scott Mair, SVP for technology and engineering at AT&T, said the carrier was on track to begin testing fixed broadband services using spectrum in the 15 GHz band and pre-“5G” technology this summer, on its way to adding 28 GHz band spectrum to its tests later this year. Those tests are then expected to add a mobility component by early 2017.
Mair acknowledged the 5G technology would not adhere to any set specifications, which he said would not be available until 2018, but that like rival Verizon Communications it was important to at least begin working with some of the components expected to be part of the 5G standard in order to gain familiarity with the technology and be able to plow that experience back into the standards process.
“That’s always a risk, but it’s the best path forward,” Mair said.
Mair also provided some insight into how AT&T views network needs connected to new use cases around the “Internet of Things” and connected cars. Mair said massive IoT deployments will require networks capable of supporting 1 million devices in a one square kilometer environment; while vehicle-to-vehicle, smart city and mobile health care services will rely on extremely low latency networks of less than one millisecond in the air interface. Mair said both would require the “need to re-architect LTE” in order to meet those performance requirements.
In addition to the use of higher-band spectrum assets, Mair said 5G deployments could tap lower-band spectrum currently held by carriers as well as potentially use the 3.5 GHz band being opened up on a shared basis by the Federal Communications Commission.