US telecoms giant AT&T has announced that it will launch its first ‘5G Evolution Markets’ in Austin, Texas and Indianapolis, Indiana in the coming months. The telco expects the wireless network to offer theoretical peak speeds of 400Mbps or higher and, as AT&T continues to densify its network and deploy technologies such as carrier aggregation (CA) and LTE-Licence Assisted Access (LAA), it believes it will be able to enable theoretical download speeds of up to 1Gbps in some areas by end- 2017. Additionally, AT&T has confirmed that it is building two new 5G testbeds set to go on-air this spring, at the AT&T Labs facility in Austin. AT&T will work with multiple vendors to evaluate advanced 5G technology concepts for both fixed and mobile solutions, test network infrastructure and devices and explore 5G signal coverage for the 28GHz, 39GHz, and sub-6GHz frequency bands.
The 5G rollout is part of a larger network platform upgrade – known as ‘AT&T Network 3.0 Indigo’ – that promises to be more adaptable and responsive. The operator seeks to put more of an emphasis on software-defined networking (SDN), covering 75% of its network by 2020, up from 34% at present. John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president, Technology and Operations, commented: ‘We see Indigo as the third generation of modern networking. Indigo is our term for a world where it isn’t just your connection speeds that are accelerating, but every element of the network becomes more seamless, efficient and capable. It is a living, evolving, upgradeable platform. Think of Indigo like the operating system on your phone. We’re taking that model to the network.’