AT&T to Trial Highly Touted AirGig Technology for fronthaul/backhaul

AT&T plans to conduct two trials of its AirGig millimeter-wave technology to show how it could be an alternative to fiber-based fronthaul (access) and backhaul, AT&T’s President of Technology Operations Bill Hogg said at the Jefferies 2017 Global Technology Conference which was webcast.  Mr. Hogg mostly talked about the evolution of AT&Ts wireless network as it moves toward “5G.”  That included: LTE Advanced, higher order MIMO, luse of small cells, distributed antenna systems,  licensed and unlicensed spectrum, centralized RAN (also known as Cloud RAN or C-RAN), and other wireless network densification schemes.

The highly touted (but unproven) AirGig technology uses electrical power lines as a waveguide for millimeter wave, providing data transmission at multigigabit speeds. We wrote about AT&T’s planned AirGig trial in this Feb 1, 2017 article.  It was first discussed 17 minutes and 40 seconds into Hogg’s talk during the Jeffferies Conference webcast (with hyper-link noted above).

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Sidebar:  For comparison purposes, note that both Verizon and Google are looking at millimeter wave broadband wireless technology to replace fiber to the home in their respective triple play offerings (Google Fiber and Verizon FioS).]

Propagation or the distance signals can travel, is much better than if “you just had millimeter wave antennas pointed at each other,” Hogg noted during the webcast.

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“It’s (AirGig) a great alternative to stringing up fiber, especially in rural areas where you have long runs,” he commented. “These are great opportunities to leverage the physical infrastructure that’s already been deployed.”

AT&T anticipates using AirGig to provide “fronthaul and backhaul instead of deploying fiber” for small cells, Hogg said. AT&T also envisions “using small cells as a drop to the house in a fixed wireless capability.”

AirGig also has the potential to detect changes in sensitivity that could indicate line breaks or when branches are lying on a powerline – a capability that could be very valuable to electric power companies, according to Hogg. The technology also may be able to support wireless meter reading for those power companies, he added.

Hogg reiterated AT&T’s previously announced plan to conduct two trials of the technology this year to perfect the model and deployment of AirGig.  It leverages the physical infrastructure (power lines) that’s already deployed.

Having an integrated wireline and wireless network is a key asset for AT&T, Hogg said.  “We’ve got a lot of experience in it,” he added.

References:

AT&T Offers AirGig Update, Reiterates Upcoming Trials for Fiber Fronthaul/Backhaul Alternative

http://about.att.com/newsroom/att_to_test_delivering_multi_gigabit_wireless_internet_speeds_using_power_lines.html

http://about.att.com/story/trial_project_airgig.html

 

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