AT&T joins Verizon in 5G testing, 100x faster than 4G

AT&T joins Verizon in 5G testing, 100x faster than 4G

The three companies will start the first 5G trials over the summer.

Verizon began lab-testing its 5G network last year, aiming to carry out the first real-world tests this year, and and AT&T has now announced that it will be doing the same. The trials will help AT&T guide its own contributions toward emerging 5G standards and set the stage for widespread commercial and mobile availability once those standards are established.

Once in place, AT&T said it expects 5G networks to deliver speeds 10 to 100 times faster than the 4G LTE connections we use today.

The future of wireless communications is here, and AT&T is not about to be left behind in the race to provide the fastest speed to customers.

"Data traffic on AT&T's wireless network grew more than 150,000% from 2007 through 2015, driven largely by video", AT&T pointed out. Then it will transition to a limited field trial of 5G in Austin before the year ends. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) - the body that is responsible for creating the standard - has defined 5G network speeds as being 10 Gbps, with peak speeds of up to 20 Gbps, but its characteristics won't be finalized before 2020, and we need more speed now. Back when it made this announcement, "Big Red" said that its 5G connectivity will be capable of 50 times 4G LTE's current throughput, cutting down latency to mere milliseconds, and allowing users to download Hollywood blockbusters in less than ten seconds or so.

"AT&T's 5G field trials will play an important role in ensuring rapid and wide-scale adoption of this next generation mobile technology", said Arun Bansal, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Unit Radio, Ericsson. AT&T, like Verizon, believes that the market needs faster and more reliable networks as the number of devices calling on wireless data increases. The company unveiled its 5G roadmap saying that virtual reality, IoT, 4K videos consume a lot of bandwidth and 5G is ideal for them. Customers will also see much lower latency with 5G. As a result, the giant American mobile operator has hinted that it will begin testing this 5G network in Austin, Texas before this year concludes.

It already has plans to virtualise 75% of its network by 2020, and is well on the way to hitting 30% in 2016, and claims to have 14 million wireless customers already using the virtualised network. Of course the average person won't see these speeds, but even something like 5 GB/s will be light years better than anything most of us have ever imagined.

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