5G

Why AT&T Project AirGig could improve telecommuting and remote work in rural areas

The project is one step closer to commercial deployments, as AT&T explores new trials and 5G integration.

AT&T has started initial discussion with suppliers for a commercial deployment of its Project AirGig, which delivers wireless broadband over powerlines. In a Monday press release, the company also detailed its plans for additional trials and research into surface-wave systems, which could help AirGig integrate better into a 5G future.

Because AirGig sends the signal across power lines, it can reach more users in rural and suburban areas. According to our sister site CNET, the deployment of AirGig could bring 100-megabit rural broadband by 2021, opening up new remote work and telecommuting opportunities for professionals around the US.

"We've applied for more than 500 patents for AirGig and conducted field trials both in and outside the United States," Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and CTO, said in the release. "And today, we're confident that we're on the cusp of a technology that could potentially help to solve the digital divide in this country."

Project AirGig is coming fresh off of a trial run in rural Georgia. The team used plastic antenna prototypes, which held up well and maintained the signal integrity, the release said. According to the release, the trial delivered "hundreds of megabits per second to a number of residential locations in a rural part of the state," but AT&T said it is confident it can eventually bring gigabit speeds as well.

SEE: Wireless networking policy (Tech Pro Research)

Users in the trial installed the equipment themselves, and were able to connect to the internet within 10 minutes. This gave further evidence of the technology's commercial viability, the release said. Additionally, Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers said that AirGig has the potential to help solve the state's digital divide.

The project was initially launched in 2016, as an attempt to provide last-mile connectivity to homes where running fiber would be too expensive. And it is emerging as a viable option for extending next-generation connectivity to underserved areas.

Collaboration tools and cloud computing have made remote work a fast-growing trend in the enterprise. However, these kinds of jobs require good connectivity. Tools like AirGig could help expand the economic opportunities in rural areas, while simultaneously expanding a company's available talent pool.

Research from FlexJobs indicates that 65% of workers would be more productive working from home than from their office, and supporting remote workers seems to be getting easier everyday.

For tips on how to land a remote job, and thrive in it click here. For a list of 10 rules to include in your remote work policy, click here.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • AT&T is one step closer to commercial deployments of its Project AirGig, which delivers broadband connectivity over power lines.
  • Project AirGig could bring 100-megabyte internet speeds to rural areas, opening up new remote work opportunities for residents.

Also see

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Image: AT&T

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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