The bulk of early 5G deployment activity has been centered on fixed wireless broadband services, but AT&T says it’s planning to take it a step further and offer mobile services that run on the emerging, next-gen wireless standard.
AT&T announced this week that it will introduce mobile 5G service in a dozen markets by “late 2018,” enabling service on mobile devices that support the technology, though AT&T did not identify any specific devices it expects to be ready in time for the initial rollout late in the year. AT&T has already been testing pre-standard 5G fixed wireless in Austin and Waco, Texas; Kalamazoo, Mich., and South Bend, Ind.
AT&T noted that its coming offering will be standards based, noting that 3GPP announced it had completed elements of 5G new radio standards last month.
“With these specifications now available, hardware, chipset and device manufacturers can start development,” AT&T said. “This allows us to provide mobile 5G services sooner. We’re confident this latest standards milestone will allow us to bring 5G to market faster without compromising its long-term vision.”
AT&T expects 5G to deliver faster data speeds to mobile devices but also support lower latencies that, for example, will enable video streaming apps to spool up faster. AT&T has already been testing millimeter wave and pre-standard 5G technologies to deliver DirecTV Now, its OTT TV service.
Self-driving cars are among the future-facing applications for 5G, which will be on wide display at next week’s CES show in Las Vegas. Of note, Lyft will work with Aptiv there to offer rides self-driving cars via 20 pre-defined routes and destinations. However, those cars will also have a safety driver behind the wheel and an in-car host, Engadget reported.