AT&T unveils 5G roadmap; SDN, NFV key enablers


5G plan includes Ericsson, Intel; field trials planned for Austin

AT&T today announced a roadmap for research, development and ultimate commercialization of next-generation 5G mobile networks in partnership with Ericsson and Intel.

The U.S.-based mobile network operator pointed to millimeter wave, software-defined networks and network functions virtualization as key enablers of 5G, which has yet to be standardized by international technical bodies.

John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president for AT&T Technology and Operations, said the the new network type would enable advanced applications like virtual reality, self-driving cars, robotics, smart cities and more.

“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.”

AT&T has filed paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission seeking an experimental license to conduct technology trials using spectrum in the 3.4-3.6 GHz, 3.7-4.2 GHz, 14.5-15.35 GHz and 27.5-28.5 GHz bands. The carrier said the testing would be used to test “experimental equipment” in support of “potential (5G) multi-gigabyte per second applications for fixed and mobile wireless communication networks at higher transmission rates and lower latency than is currently available,” and supporting voice, video and data.

“Applicant’s proposed experiments would involve base stations that would transmit signals to and receive signals from experimental equipment located onboard mobile vehicles and on fixed stations in and within 5 kilometers of the Austin area,” the filing requests. The license request is for a three-year period, with expectations of 5G standards to be set by 2019.

Ericsson SVP and Head of Business Unit Radio Arun Bansal said, “AT&T’s 5G field trials will play an important role in ensuring rapid and wide-scale adoption of this next generation mobile technology. 5G will impact the entire mobile network – from devices to access and core to cloud – and open up exciting new IoT applications for consumers and industry, so Ericsson is enabling AT&T to move beyond 5G lab tests to gain a greater understanding of 5G’s potential in their own network environments and markets.”

Intel Corporate Vice President and Genearl Manager of the Intel Communication and Devices Group Aicha Evans stressed the importance of collaboration in development of revolutionary technology.

“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.”

About Author

Sean Kinney

Managing Editor
Sean Kinney focuses on multiple subject areas including DAS, small cells, cloud computing, 5G and Internet of Things vertical applications. Sean also hosts RCRtv's HetNet Happenings web show focused on physical infrastructure. Sean and wife Katherine live in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He studied journalism and literature at the University of Mississippi then spent six years based in Key West, Florida, working as a reporter for the Miami Herald Media Company.