AT&T will target late 2018 for early commercial launches of standards-based 5G deployments, the company confirmed in an update into the progress of its trials.
Its new timeline follows an announcement last week from the 3GPP, which said interim standards for specific elements of the technology would be made available by March 2018 to facilitate wide-scale testing of mobile broadband use cases.
In a company blog, Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and company CTO, said the 3GPP’s decision means the operator will be able to launch services to consumers in late 2018, a year ahead of its initial anticipated timeframe.
“People are data hungry,” Fuetsch said. “5G will be a critical part of staying ahead of that demand. While there are many elements to this new technology, the big news here is that you can expect to see the first standards-based mobile 5G services in two years or less.”
AT&T is set to begin the second round of its 5G trial in Austin, Texas, in April.
Its latest trial will allow residential and small-to-medium sized business customers to access enhanced broadband, stream AT&T’s Directv Now service and use other next generation entertainment applications.
The first round of 5G tests at its R&D facility in Austin took place in December and focused on outdoor trials of enterprise use cases in partnership with Ericsson.
Last month rival Verizon said it will offer fixed wireless ‘5G’ services in 11 markets by the end of June as part of a major pilot programme.