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.

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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
  • 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.”