AT&T has officially announced that it will begin trialing 5G wireless technologies this year, including lab tests in the second quarter and outdoor tests over the summer. The carrier anticipates 5G speeds to be 10-100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE connections, with reduced latency.
Customers will see speeds measured in gigabits per second, not megabits. For reference, at one gigabit per second, you can download a TV show in less than 3 seconds. Customers will also see much lower latency with 5G. Latency, for example, is how long it takes after you press play on a video app for the video to start streaming on your device. We expect 5G latency in the range of 1 to 5 milliseconds.
Verizon Wireless, for what it’s worth, is beginning its own tests on 5G wireless technologies this year as well. However, while the tests are being run, it won’t be arriving for the general subscriber base for quite some time. The technologies for a widespread rollout won’t be in place until 2018, and it’s expected that AT&T’s own rollout of its 5G network won’t happen until at least 2020. However, for those that live in Austin, Texas, there will be fixed points of access this year.
New experiences like virtual reality, self-driving cars, robotics, smart cities and more are about to test networks like never before,” said John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President, AT&T Technology and Operations. “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.
It remains too early to predict Apple’s roadmap for 5G connectivity. Apple was quick to support LTE-Advanced, a faster standard of 4G LTE, on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus or later, but 3G and LTE wireless technologies were both available for years before Apple adopted them. Based on AT&T’s and 3GPP’s timelines, a 5G iPhone may not be released for at least three to four years.
AT&T to Begin Testing 5G This Year