- AT&T this week announced its largest 5G fixed wireless trial at the Magnolia Market's Silos Center in Waco, TX. The company reports that this is its largest 5G trial in terms of mobile traffic, and its largest with a home and lifestyle brand.
- The trial will allow AT&T to test 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum that will be distributed across a number of Wi-Fi access points, allowing for faster wireless speeds for visitors, as well as more stable connection for vendors who use mobile point of sale devices.
- Magnolia Market was selected as the primary location because it attracts approximately 5,000 visitors daily. AT&T says it also plans to expand the 5G trial to other areas of Waco, including small businesses, churches and educational institutions.
This trial launch follows an August announcement from AT&T that the company would be expanding fixed wireless 5G trials in three cities — Waco, Kalamazoo, MI, and South Bend, IN — by the end of this year, though it doesn't look likely that all of these expansions will happen in the next week. In fact, AT&T recently laid off at least a dozen outdoor technicians in Kalamazoo, but it is unclear how that will affect the 5G testing.
The path to 5G is not just being driven by AT&T. In fact, the company is falling behind its largest competitor, Verizon. Earlier this month, Verizon announced it would officially roll out its 5G residential broadband internet in up to five cities in 2018, starting with Sacramento. While some obstacles stand in the way, including some regulatory oversight, it is likely that Verizon will set the pace for how telecom providers introduce the new wireless infrastructure.
Broadly, 5G is expected to not only alter mobile communication capabilities, but also to create jobs, add $500 billion to the economy, and infiltrate industries — such as healthcare or transportation — that can benefit from the improved broadband speeds.
And 5G is not the only way in which AT&T is focusing on improving its network. The company has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Commerce to develop the nation's first dedicated public safety network. The FirstNet service will be available in all U.S. states and territories to improve first responder communications, however states also have the option to opt-out of the network and select a different provider for the service.