AT&T is looking for industry partners – from service providers to phone and chip developers – to help make the next big thing of 5G wireless a reality. Tests have already shown the next-generation of wireless can deliver data at 10 gigabits per second – what has been called “blistering” speeds. And much higher speeds are believed to be possible.

Last month, the FCC moved forward on providing spectrum for 5G, a decision that drew praise from the communications industry which has been quite critical of the FCC over issues such as net neutrality.

AT&T is hardly alone in pushing 5G. So are Verizon and other wireless providers around the globe.

  • More coverage – Watch a 5G primer at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0Az21dHuKM

5G makes current 4G wireless broadband look slow in comparison, but there’s much work to be done to refine the technology and set standards.

“We expect 5G to deliver speeds 10-100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE connections,” AT&T explained in a 5G roadmap published earlier this year.

“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. Customers will also see much lower latency with 5G. Latency, for example, is how long it takes after you press play on a video app for the video to start streaming on your device. We expect 5G latency in the range of 1 to 5 milliseconds.”

To prepare for what it calls “official specifications” for use of the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project ) standards that will govern 5G, AT&T said last week that it already is talking with a number of companies.

“We’re joining other tech leaders to find and resolve key standards issues early and bring 5G to market sooner.” said Tom Keathley, senior vice president- wireless network architecture and design, AT&T. “Interim and fragmented pre-standard specifications can distract from the ultimate goal. Linking trials to the standards process is the fastest path to large-scale global 5G deployment.”

AT&T identified the following as companies with which it is having what were described as “preliminary discussions:”

  • China Mobile
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • Ericsson
  • Huawei
  • Intel
  • KDDI
  • LG
  • Nokia
  • NTT
  • DOCOMO
  • Qualcomm Technologies
  • Samsung
  • SK Telecom
  • Telstra
  • Vodafone

Standards could be set as soon as 2018.

“In 5G trials, AT&T is accelerating over-the-air interoperability testing based on standards developed under the 3GPP New Radio (NR) specifications,” AT&T noted.

“The trials are designed to easily evolve with future versions of the official 5G standards, a milestone 3GPP targets for 2018. Focusing on the NR standards helps ensure the technology will work correctly with any future 3GPP 5G NR updates.”