The world of 4G LTE might still be a novelty for some in the United States, but at least one carrier is forging ahead with plans to bring 5G to the party. AT&T has today announced that it will be launching its 5G network in two U.S. cities, Austin and Indianapolis, towards the end of 2017.
The speeds being talked about in the same breath as 5G are mind boggling for fiber connections, let alone something that’s running over a cellular connection. AT&T expects speeds of 400Mbps or better, and depending on the special tricks and technology being used, there is the possibility of speeds touching 1Gbps in “some areas” this year.
We’ll just let that soak in for a moment before carrying on.
The move to bring 5G to AT&T’s customers is part of a larger network upgrade that the company calls Indigo. This upgrade should lead to AT&T’s service being more responsive as a whole and better at adapting to changing load levels and requirements throughout. Indigo will result in an increased focus on software defined networking, which will cover 75% of the network by 2020, and technologies like machine learning will be used in order to make all this magic happen.
AT&T even says that it will open-source the code for its network’s orchestration platform, ECOMP, potentially allowing other companies to take advantage of the work AT&T is carrying out right now.
As with the very early days of anything like this, 5G is still some way off being ready for the mainstream. There’s no standard for the technology right now, meaning phones won’t be 5G-ready for some time – at least until a standard has been agreed upon.
Timescales for things like that are hard to pin down, but with 4G very much fast enough for most people, even in today’s data hungry world, we don’t expect a huge scramble for 5G amongst the public just yet.
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