Networking

AT&T raises stakes on 5G, targets two cities for AirGig trials

AT&T has officially entered into advanced discussions with power companies in order to locate trial locations for its Project AirGig.

Image: AT&T

The 5G future may be coming faster than we think. AT&T has entered into advanced discussions to determine trial locations for its Project AirGig wireless gigabit internet service.

According to a press release, AT&T is targeting at least two locations to begin trials by fall of this year. The release noted that "one location will be in the United States with others to be determined in the coming months."

Originally announced in September 2016, Project AirGig is a new approach to multi-gigabit wireless internet that uses antennas attached to power lines to deliver the signal. AT&T has noted that it is "easier to deploy than fiber," as it doesn't require building new towers or burying any cable. The company also said it expects that it can help deliver internet to more rural areas as well.

SEE: AT&T to deliver gigabit wireless internet on power lines with new Project AirGig

AT&T has been experimenting with AirGig's broadband-over-power lines (BPL) technology for quite some time, and has achieved positive results, the release said. Those experiments have led to the development of the company's Radio Distributed Antenna System (RDAS) as well.

"Project AirGig represents a key invention in our 5G Evolution approach," Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer, said in the release. "AT&T Labs is 'writing the textbook' for a new technology approach that has the potential to deliver benefits to utility companies and bring this multi-gigabit, low-cost internet connectivity anywhere there are power lines--big urban market, small rural town, globally."

Earlier in January 2017, AT&T also announced that it would begin a 5G trial in Austin, Texas for its DirecTV Now customers. That trial is set to focus on 4K video streaming, IoT deployments, and mobile video.

The AT&T announcement is just the latest in a host of carrier and tech company innovations that will help build out the 5G network of the future. Verizon recently announced its own efforts in 5G connectivity and next-generation wireless technology with the $1.8 billion purchase of XO Communications to focus on fixed wireless and gigabit speeds.

Silicon Valley tech giants are also jumping into the market. Google recently expanded its support of Webpass for its Google Fiber customers, and Elon Musk's SpaceX has come up with a plan to use thousands of satellites to deliver wireless internet.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. AT&T has entered into advanced discussions with power companies to find two new trial locations for its AirGig service.
  2. AirGig is AT&T's wireless service that uses antennas attached to power lines, and could help advance their 5G mission.
  3. Companies like Verizon, Google, and SpaceX are all developing next-generation wireless innovations that could mean a lot of competition for AT&T.

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