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5G mobile networks are getting real, even if the official deployment standard isn’t yet.

Last week, for example, AT&T, Ericsson and Intel announced they’re teaming on a 5G trial in Austin, Texas. It’s actually their second. Last year, the partners provided fixed wireless 5G to select Austin businesses.

Now they’re delivering an ultra-fast internet connection to residences, small businesses and enterprises using Ericsson’s 5G RAN and Intel’s 5G Mobile Trial Platform. The trial is set to run for several months.

Participants will be able to stream premium live TV via DirecTV Now and get fast broadband services over a fixed wireless 5G signal. AT&T says it expects data speeds to reach 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). According to Samsung tests, at 1 Gbps, a full-length movie can be downloaded to a phone in less than half a minute.

Why 5G matters

5G offers 2 features — high speeds and low latency — that could be essential to the next wave of IT developments. These include the Internet of Things (IoT), connected cities, remote medical care, driverless cars and mobile video streaming.

These aren’t just pie-in-the-sky possibilities; many are here now. AT&T, for example, says that more than half its mobile network’s data traffic, which has increased 250,000 percent since 2007, now comes from video.

Even plain old PCs could be impacted by 5G. “Looking three or four years ahead, the device market will begin to see very significant shifts in both usage patterns and form factors, especially as 5G wireless technology is introduced,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, earlier this week.

Other 5G trials, too

Plenty of other companies are experimenting with and rolling out 5G technology.

Verizon is one. Earlier this year the company announced plans to deliver 5G pre-commercial services to select customers on its newly built network. The cities involved include Dallas, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Also earlier this year, Intel introduced GO, its 5G development brand for automotive solutions. Intel says GO includes development kits for automakers to develop ahead of the expected 5G network rollout.

5G is real

All that, and more, has led John Delaney, a mobility analyst at IDC, to say we’ve passed the point of 5G hype. Now, he believes, is the era of real 5G.

“We don't know exactly what 5G is yet,” Delaney wrote late last year. “But we've reached the point where we know enough about 5G to see what it will not be, and to get growing clarity about what it is likely to be.”

“On that basis,” Delaney continued, “we believe we’re now entering the period in which vendors’ claims to have 5G products need to be considered on their merits, rather than being dismissed out-of-hand for being ‘too early.’”

We agree. How about you? Are you involved in 5G trials and tests? Join the conversation by posting in the “Add new comment” field below.


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Blog Category: 
Advanced Technologies