CARY — In the retail space, the rivalry between Verizon and AT&T is almost second to none.

But it’s interesting to note, when it comes to building out the infrastructure for 5G networks, they’re on the same team.

“You’ve got to take that collaborative approach,” said Trey Rabon, president of AT&T North Carolina, appearing on the panel, “Building out the 5G Ecosystem,” at NC TECH’s Demystifying 5G conference on Thursday.

“We don’t share competitive intelligence,” he clarified,  “but by and large, taking a technology-neutral approach ensures that wireless providers have access to the same resources and have the ability to deploy the same infrastructure in a way that works well for that local jurisdiction.”

Talking 5G … Ann Brooks, manager of Government Affairs at Crown Castle, and Trey Rabon, president of AT&T North Carolina.

Sitting right next to him was Sergei Mislevy, Verizon’s executive director of Network Assurance. He couldn’t have agreed more.

“We share a lot of the same towers and poles. We use each other’s fibers in different cities. We do work together because it is in the best interest of the community,” he said.

5G as “game changing”

That’s just one of the take-home messages from the half-day session focused on the rollout of 5G, both across the state and nationally.

5G, which offers the promise of wireless data at broadband speeds, is being described as a “game-changing transition to next generation wireless connectivity.”

The panelists concurred.

“We have a ravenous appetite in data, especially in the Carolinas. We can never build fast enough,” Mislevy told the 200-strong crowd gathered in the conference room at the Embassy Suites in Cary. “5G is going to be an explosion of what we all need, especially in the millimeter wavelength.”

NC TECH’s Demystifying 5G conference in Cary on Thursday morning.

In April, Verizon announced that Charlotte is among 20 cities that will get 5G Ultra Wideband network access this year. Those join the first two, Chicago and Minneapolis, where rollout has begun. Raleigh-Durham, however, didn’t make the cut.

Meanwhile, AT&T has already launched a 5G wireless services in parts of the Triangle and Charlotte, offering select customers and businesses access through mobile routers.

“That’s a nod to the partnerships that we have with the city of Raleigh and Charlotte,” Rabon said, emphasizing that “capital does float where it is treated best.”

At present, he added that he’s seen a “lot of excitement” by business communities. However, consumers are a little more timid.

“They are taking a wait-and-see approach until they know what the handsets do, what the applications are going to be for them.”

Ann Brooks, manager of Government Affairs at Crown Castle, also appeared on the panel. She admitted that “there’s a lot that remains to be seen,” but emphasized the need for collaboration.

“Being able to collaborate with communities on this type of infrastructure is so important for delivering these services to those communities in order for them to take full advantage specifically for their function, as well as for providing an environment where other businesses will thrive in those communities.”

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