AT&T is gearing up to launch consumer-friendly 5G pilots in the second quarter, the carrier told Wireless Week at Mobile World Congress.
According to VP of RAN and Device Design Gordon Mansfield, AT&T will launch consumer 5G pilots for fixed use cases next quarter, making its assets – like DirecTV Now – available to participants.
“What we’re trying to accomplish in our friendly user trials is – we have all kinds of test beds where we can do testing of the radio itself, of the performance, and how that works. In the friendly user trials, we go and we put applications, whether it be business applications or, in this case, consumer applications to see how those behave, what’s the experience, what’s the feedback,” Mansfield commented. “So it’s not just raw technology, it’s how do the applications that the consumer wants to use over that that provides us a lot of value. How well does it work? Can they get 4k video instead of just high def video? Do they notice a difference? Those are the types of user experience things we try to get out of this.”
Unlike its recent test with Nokia delivering DirecTV Now content over 39 GHz, Mansfield said all AT&T’s 5G trials in the first half of the year will utilize 28 GHz spectrum. Mansfield indicated the 39 GHz band is still one the carrier is looking at, but noted prototype equipment for the 28 GHz band is more fully developed at this point.
AT&T’s planned trials appear to be similar to what Verizon has undertaken with its series of fixed wireless 5G trials in 11 cities across the country. Those tests, Verizon has indicated, will utilize a 28 GHz connection to deliver 5G wireless broadband and over-the-top or voice-over-IP services to participants. Verizon is working with a mix of Verizon 5G Technology Forum partners, including Ericsson, Intel, Qualcomm, and Samsung on those trials.
But unlike Verizon, Mansfield said AT&T is pressing on with 5G trials but plans to wait until the standards are released to move ahead with full scale deployments. The trials, he explained, are more aimed at driving the carrier’s position to contribute to the standards process.