Last year Verizon commenced lab tests of its 5G mobile network and plans to conduct real-world tests during 2016. Now, AT&T has announced it will do the same with even more optimistic claims that its 5G speeds could be 10-100 times faster than current LTE (“4G”) networks.
“We expect 5G to deliver speeds 10-100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE connections. Customers will see speeds measured in gigabits per second, not megabits. For reference, at one gigabit per second, you can download a TV show in less than 3 seconds”, says the AT&T statement.
However, there are still lots of hurdles to overcome before we’ll see the new technology being deployed.
Currently, there are no firm international agreements on 5G standards. Most of the mobile operators are using different implementations for the next generation of high speed data services, but eventually the technology will need to be agreed by 3GPP, the international standards organisation that oversees mobile standards.
Originally, a draft standard was aimed at 2018, with rollout taking place over the following few years. But some in the industry want some level of 5G to be available next year. Re/code for example reported recently that AT&T wants to use the service to provide broadband to homes in more remote areas, and that it might be possible before the mobile standards are finalised.
Another hurdle is the fact that smartphone makers will need to decide when to include 5G network chips, as even when the mobile operators offer the service, many smartphones won’t work with the newer standards initially.
Larry Banks is a keen follower of technology and finance. He has worked for a variety of online publications, writing about a diverse range of topics including mobile networks, patents, and Internet video delivery technologies.