AT&T has announced that it will be deploying its first 5G mobile service in Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco by the end of 2018. Although the company did not give details about the neighborhoods where the network will be available, they said that nine more cities will be announced in the up-coming months. The service provider will be launching a 5G innovation center and test lab in Austin.
“After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G – and do it much sooner than most people thought possible,” Igal Elbaz, the senior vice president of wireless network architecture and design for AT&T, said in a statement. “Our mobile 5G firsts will put our customers in the middle of it all.”
According to Gordon Mansfield, AT&T’s vice president of radio access network and device design, Dallas and Waco were selected due to their strong ties to the company. Dallas is the company’s hometown, while Waco has a 5G pilot underway at Magnolia Market at The Silos – a retail complex owned by HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines that is a tourist magnet with approximately 5,000 visitors a day. Atlanta was selected as it is one of the biggest cities in the Southeast.
However, for the network to be functioning at its optimum level, it would require 5G compatible smartphones and tablets. Mansfield stated that AT&T is working diligently with their vendors towards upgrading smartphones and tablets which would be compatible. “It’s always the chicken or egg,” he said. “It’s important for us to start to build, so the device ecosystem understands this is the future of our network.”
In their new Austin lab, AT&T will be conducting these stress tests by using 5G network equipment and devices from a variety of vendors before the devices are released to the customers. “The lab will be where our engineers can build and test creative solutions and run ‘stress tests’ simulating real-world customer experiences with mobile 5G network equipment and devices from multiple vendors before they are rolled out to customers. This lab is also equipped with an outdoor 5G testbed to trial a variety of 5G applications and real-world use cases,” AT&T explained.