AT&T doubled its fixed-wireless internet footprint, bringing the service to residents and businesses in nine new states.
The operator said it now offers 10Mb/s service across a total of 18 states and 160,000 locations, with the goal of expanding to more than 400,000 locations by the year-end. States now receiving access include Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee were the first nine states to receive service earlier this year.
AT&T’s expansion is in line with its Connect America Fund commitment with the Federal Communications Commission to deliver internet access to rural and underserved areas. However, the move also comes as the operator steps up its tests of fixed-wireless 5G services.
At the end of August, AT&T announced plans to expand its fixed wireless 5G trials at 28GHz to three cities – Waco, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana – by the end of this year, in addition to continuing its mobile 5G work. The operator said it is targeting late 2018 for early commercial launches of standards-based 5G deployments.
AT&T did not immediately respond for a request for comment on whether the fixed-wireless services being deployed today will be upgradeable to 5G.
Verizon is also hard at work on fixed-wireless 5G testing, launching pilot programs in 11 cities across the country earlier this year. As in AT&T’s case, Verizon is also conducting the tests using 28GHz spectrum.
Speaking at investor conferences in 2016 and 2017, CEO Lowell McAdam said fixed-wireless 5G will help Verizon expand its broadband footprint at a “minuscule cost” and generate enough return to get over the 5G “investment hump”.
Data from GSMA’s recent Mobile Economy report indicates fixed-wireless will be the initial 5G use case in North America, and notes the region will “migrate rapidly to 5G networks and services”.