AT&T: Mobile 5G will use mm wave & small cells

AT&T says it will use small cells for its mobile “5G” service planned for 12 U.S. cities this year. The company’s first of these roll outs will use millimeter wave [1] spectrum, which offers higher capacity rates than low-band spectrum but does not propagate over large distances. That requires transmit/receive radios need to closer together than they are in LTE deployments.

Note 1.  Millimeter wave (also millimeter band) is the band of spectrum between 30 gigahertz (Ghz) and 300 Ghz.

“Millimeter wave is more associated with small cell-like ranges and heights,” said AT&T’s Hank Kafka, VP of network architecture. “It can be on telephone poles or light poles or building rooftops or on towers, but generally if you’re putting it on towers it’s at a lower height than you would put a high-powered macrocell, because of the propagation characteristics.”

“5G will change the way we live, work and enjoy entertainment,” said Melissa Arnoldi, president, AT&T Technology and Operations. “We’re moving quickly to begin deploying mobile 5G this year and start unlocking the future of connectivity for consumers and businesses. With faster speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video and more.”

AT&T has announced 23 cities that are getting its 5G Evolution infrastructure, which the company describes as “the foundation for mobile 5G.” Those cities are Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; Chicago; Fresno, CA; Greenville, South Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Louisville; Memphis; Nashville; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Tulsa, Oklahoma and Sacramento, California.

AT&T’s deployment of small cells to support mobile 5G will be largely independent of another 2017 AT&T infrastructure initiative – the build-out of the 700 MHz spectrum for FirstNet.

“Where appropriate we’re always going to try and get as much synergy as we can … but there’s a difference between dealing with small cell sites and dealing with macro sites,” Kafka said.

“You’ll find that a lot of radios that suppliers are putting out now are going to be upgradeable to support 5G,” Kafka said. “Some of the radios we’re deploying now do have that capability in the hardware.”

Kafka said that in some instances, tower crews might be able to add “5G” equipment near the base of the tower at the same time they add 700 MHz radios to the top. But the synergies between the two deployments are limited.

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In sharp contrast to AT&Ts endorsement of millimeter wave technology, Sprint’s CTO John Saw said last week that he is not sure that using millimeter waves to deliver 5G services is a practical economic use of the high-band spectrum and that Sprint will be focusing on using its existing bandwidth to initially deploy 5G.

“What is the cost to deliver a bit over millimeter waves? Where is the business case on that?” John Saw asked at the Citi conference in Las Vegas.

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Verizon CTO Hans Vestberg told a CES panel last week that Verizon “will be first” to deploy 5G.  Verizon is moving ahead with deployment of pre-standard fixed-wireless 5G service, starting with a rollout in Sacramento, California in the second half of this year. But Vestberg noted fixed-wireless is just one part of what Verizon plans to do with 5G.

“From 5G you can do different slices. We are now focusing on one slice, which is basically residential broadband to deliver superior performance quicker to market…That’s one use case, we can talk about many others.”

References:

https://www.rcrwireless.com/20180111/carriers/att-mobile-5g-will-rely-on-small-cells-tag4

https://policyforum.att.com/att-innovations/preparing-5g-need-small-cell-technology/

http://about.att.com/story/att_to_launch_mobile_5g_in_2018.html

http://techblog.comsoc.org/category/5g/

http://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/sprint-says-no-to-mmwave-yes-to-mobile-5g/d/d-id/739592

Verizon CTO vows to beat AT&T to 5G

 

 

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