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AT&T gearing up for 5G, the next speed boost for cellular data

AT&T gearing up for 5G, the next speed boost for cellular data

February 12, 2016

If you thought 4G LTE was about as fast as a cellular data connection could achieve, AT&T and Verizon are working to disprove that theory. The carriers have developed plans to begin trialing 5G wireless connectivity, with AT&T unveiling its roadmap for the testing in a recent announcement.

AT&T expects 5G technology to deliver speeds between 10 and 100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE connectivity. That equals much faster speeds than most wired broadband Internet services currently offer. As AT&T explains:

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.

Latency, which is seen in how long it takes after you press play on a video app for the content to begin streaming on your device, is expected to be dramatically reduced as well. AT&T says they expect to see 5G latency in the range of 1 to 5 milliseconds. The importance of this advanced technology lies in the new ways people are using their smartphones. John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president of AT&T Technology and Operations, explains further.

New experiences like virtual reality, self-driving cars, robotics, smart cities and more are about to test networks like never before. 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.

AT&T’s plans are to begin testing 5G technology in its laboratories during the second quarter of 2016, with outdoor tests and trials over the summer. Field trials of 5G technologies are expected to provide wireless connectivity to fixed locations in Austin, Texas before the end of the year.

That’s not to say 5G technology will come to your iPhone in 2017. Full testing and rollout of the network will likely take until 2020, MacRumors points out. Furthermore, Apple has been inconsistent with its adoption of newer cellular technologies. While Cupertino was quick to support LTE-Advanced, 3G and LTE wireless technologies were in use for several years before Apple adopted them.

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