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AT&T to commence Q2 2016 5G trials

US telco AT&T has pre-empted the Mobile World Congress rush by boldly laying out its plans for 5G, with field trials for some enabling-technologies happening in Q2 this year.

In a broad and wide-ranging announcement, the telco announced it will be conducting field trials of 5G-related technologies in the next quarter; as well as talk of its plans for millimetre-wave, SDN, NFV and big data implementations to bring it closer to a commercial reality in the not-too-distant future. It’s happy to categorise these specifically as “5G-enabling” technologies, perhaps in a bid to generate more marketing plausibility behind some of its R&D activity.

AT&T’s recently promoted networks CTO, John Donovan, pointed towards the variety of emerging wireless networking technologies as a means of facilitating expansion of existing LTE networks, the development of 5G network infrastructure and the general mitigation of data-driven pressure on networks.

“New experiences like virtual reality, self-driving cars, robotics, smart cities and more are about to test networks like never before,” he said. “These technologies will be immersive, pervasive and responsive to customers. 5G will help make them a reality. 5G will reach its full potential because we will build it on a software-centric architecture that can adapt quickly to new demands and give customers more control of their network services. Our approach is simple – deliver a unified experience built with 5G, software-defined networking (SDN), Big Data, security and open source software.”

Citing a whopping 150,000% increase in data traffic over its wireless network since 2007, the telco said it will be using “5G technology” to advance fixed networks with wireless technology as it expects to have to manage services forever consuming increasing levels of data. To accommodate potential changes in standards requirements, AT&T also said it’s building out all new tech and services with the ability to evolve and satisfy compliant commercial requirements of 5G technology standards once set.

AT&T’s 5G roadmap is being devised and researched with Intel and Qualcomm, and the Corporate VP of the former, Aicha Evans, said collaboration in general is the way forward for the entire telecoms industry investigating 5G.

“As early 5G development and trials get underway, industry collaboration is necessary to implement new network architectures and prepare for commercial availability,” she said. “At Intel, we know that working with partners like AT&T and Ericsson is essential to bringing faster and more efficient wireless networks that will bring new and richer experiences to our lives.”

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