AT&T Mobile “5G”: 1st 3 Cities in 2018 vs ITU-R WP 5D IMT 2020

AT&T announced on Tuesday three cities to get its so called “5G” mobile network this year.  The three cities are:  Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; and Waco, Texas.  The U.S. mega carrier plans on deploying its version of “5G” over mmWave in a total of 12 cities by the end of 2018, as we previously reported.  The remaining cities will be announced at a later date.

Several carriers have been trialing various versions of non standardized 5G networks for some time. AT&T says this rollout will be based on the 3GPP release 15 New Radio specification (which will not by itself be presented as a contribution to ITU-R WP5D for IMT 2020 radio aspects- see Closing Comment below).

This AT&T version of “5G”  is said to offer theoretical peak speeds of several gigabits a second at much lower latency than existing 4G-LTE wireless networks. The combination of faster speeds and lower latency is thought to help speed adoption of real time control of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and electric utilities that require a persistent Internet connection.

“After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G — and do it much sooner than most people thought possible,” said Igal Elbaz, SVP of Wireless Network Architecture and Design at AT&T.

The AT&T “5G” rollout is ahead of availability of consumer “5G” devices.  Both device makers and wireless carriers need to closely time launching “5G” devices and networks so the return on investment is maximized. If one launches significantly early or late, the other will suffer.

There’s a good chance major hardware makers will announced some of the first “5G” devices next week at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain.  Let’s hope there’s not a proliferation of “5G” device versions- one for each wireless carrier!

From the previously referenced AT&T press release:

We believe 5G and SDN go hand in handA virtualized and software-defined network lets you develop, deploy, and protect new network applications faster than with a hardware-based model.

We’re on the most aggressive network virtualization path that we know of in our industry. We plan to virtualize 75% of our network by 2020. Our goal in 2017 was 55%, and we hit that mark.

The experience we’ve gained by leading the industry transformation to network virtualization and software control will help our customers to get the most out of 5G.

Ultimately, we expect to reach theoretical peak speeds of multiple gigabits per second on devices through mobile 5G. While speed is important, we also expect to see much lower latency rates. With higher speeds and lower latency rates, our mobile 5G network will eventually unlock a number of new, exciting experiences for our customers.

For these experiences to become reality, you need mobile 5G powered by SDN and edge computing. We’re making the cloud smarter, faster and local.

Closing Comment:

Let’s carefully examine this quote from the press release:

“This is standards-based, mobile 5G we’re talking about. AT&T is the only U.S. carrier that’s announced plans to deliver this ground-breaking technology to its customers in 2018.”

AT&T will likely be the first U.S. carrier to deploy mobile “5G” based on millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum and technology.   Sprint’s rollout is expected in 2019, T-Mobile only anticipates national mobile coverage by 2020, and Verizon has focused on fixed access “5G” for its early deployments (also not standardized).

However, AT&T’s mobile “5G” initial deployment is NOT close to being “standards-based mobile 5G,” as the company claims.  That’s because the only true 5G standards will be the ITU-R WP5D IMT 2020 recommendations, which won’t be completed till the end of 2020 (as we’ve pointed out countless times).  ITU-R won’t even start their detailed Radio Interface Technology (RIT) evaluation process till 2019! Further, 3GPP won’t even submit the initial templates for their proposed IMT 2020 RIT till the January 30 to February 7, 2019 ITU-R WP 5D meeting with their final WP 5D  submission in July, 2019.

5g imt image

From the 3GPP website:

The final and fully comprehensive 3GPP IMT-2020 submission (encompassing both Release 15 and Release 16) is planned for July 2019 (to be presented at the July 9-17, 2019 ITU-R WP 5D meeting).

To help the Evaluation Groups in their work, 3GPP is currently planning a workshop to present the 5G solutions to interested external bodies – specifically the Evaluation Groups – to allow a better understanding of the 3GPP technologies for 5G. More news will follow soon – on the date and place of the 3GPP Workshop.


Author’s Opinion:

AT&T should know better than to call it’s 2018 (3GPP New Radio based/mmWave spectrum) wireless roll-outs “standards-based mobile 5G.”  That’s because Stephen Blust ( of AT&T chairs the ITU-R WP5D standards committee!  AT&T also sends other delegates to WP 5D meetings, so the company is totally on top of the real 5G/IMT 2020 standards effort which we’ve shared with IEEE techblog readers for several years now.

Also note that neither ITU-R or ITU-T have any serious standards project(s) underway for SDN or network virtualization or NFV aspects of IMT 2020 (standardized 5G).  Those are considered out of scope for ITU.  That leaves it up to Open Source Consortium(s) to develop those related specifications.


From the February 2018 ITU-R WP 5D Meeting in Seoul, Korea:

Addendum 1. High-level scopes for Working Party 5D working and Ad hoc Groups:


Group Scope Chairman
WG GENERAL ASPECTS – To develop deliverables on services, forecasts, and also convergence of services of fixed and mobile networks which take account the needs of end users, and the demand for IMT capabilities and supported services. This includes aspects regarding the continued deployment of IMT, other general topics of IMT and overall objectives for the long-term development of IMT. To update the relevant IMT Recommendations/Reports.

– To ensure that the requirements and needs of the developing countries are reflected in the work and deliverables of WP 5D in the development of IMT. This includes coordination of work with ITU-D Sector on deployments of IMT systems and transition to IMT system.



WG TECHNOLOGY ASPECTS – To provide the technology related aspects of IMT through development of Recommendations and Reports. To update the relevant IMT‑2000 and IMT-Advanced Recommendations.  To work on key elements of IMT technologies including requirements, evaluation, and evolution. To develop liaison with external research and standardization forums, and to coordinate the external and internal activities related to the IMT-2020 process.

– To manage the research topics website and its findings.



WG SPECTRUM ASPECTS – To undertake co-existence studies, develop spectrum plans, and channel/frequency arrangements for IMT. This includes spectrum sharing between IMT and other radio services/systems coordinating as appropriate with other Working Parties in ITU-R. A. JAMIESON

New Zealand

AD HOC WORKPLAN – To coordinate the work of WP 5D to facilitate efficient and timely progress of work items. H. OHLSEN


Addendum 2.   Agreed overall deliverables/workplan of ITU-R WP 5D:

The following table provides the schedule of when approval of the planned major deliverables will be achieved following the procedures of WP 5D.


Date Meeting Anticipated Milestones
June 2018 Mexico WP 5D #30 •     Finalize CPM text on WRC-19 agenda item 9.1, Issue 9.1.8 (MTC)

•     Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.EXPERIENCES]

•     Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT. MTC]

•     Further update/Finalize draft new Report/Recommendation ITU-R

•     Finalize draft CPM text on WRC-19 agenda item 9.1, Issue 9.1.1, and send input to WP 4C

•     Finalize draft CPM text on WRC-19 agenda item 9.1, Issue 9.1.2, and send input to WP 4A

October 2018 [Japan] WP 5D #31 •     Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.MS/MSS.2GHz]

•     Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.1 452-1 492MHz]

•     Finalize draft new Report/Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT.3300 MHz RLS]

•     Finalize draft new Recommendation ITU-R M.[MT.3300 MHz FSS]

•     Finalize draft new Report/Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT.COEXISTENCE.AMS]

•     Finalize draft revision of Report ITU-R M.2373

•     Finalize revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.1036

•     Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.BY.INDUSTRIES]

•     Finalize revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.1457

February 2019 Geneva WP 5D #31’bis’
July 2019 [Geneva] WP 5D #32 •     Finalize Doc. IMT-2020/YYY Input Submissions Summary

•     Finalize revision of Recommendation M.2012

•     Finalize draft new Report M.[IMT.AAS]

•     Finalize Addendum 4 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020

December 2019 [Geneva] WP 5D #33
February 2020 [TBD] WP 5D #34 •     Finalize Doc. IMT-2020/ZZZ Evaluation Reports Summary

•     Finalize Doc. IMT-2020/VVV Process and use of GCS

•     Finalize Addendum 5 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020

June 2020 [TBD] WP 5D #35 •     Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.OUTCOME]

•     Finalize Addendum 6 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020

October 2020 [TBD] WP 5D #36 •     Finalize draft new Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT‑2020.SPECS]

•     Finalize Addendum 7 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020





AT&T names Atlanta, Dallas and Waco first of 12 US cities to get 5G wireless




5 thoughts on “AT&T Mobile “5G”: 1st 3 Cities in 2018 vs ITU-R WP 5D IMT 2020

  1. Terrific article! Is mmWave spectrum even being considered by ITU-R WP 5D Spectrum Aspects WG? Also, what’s the status of 3GPP Release 16? Couldn’t find it on their website.
    The entire mobile industry has been hijacked by marketing spin doctors!

  2. Thanks.
    1. All I could find on mmWave spectrum for IMT 2020 was this presentation:

    2. 3GPP Release 16 should be completed in December 2019 according to the 3GPP website: and
    3 Step Workplan:
    Step 1: From Sep 2017 to Dec 2017, discussions in RAN ITU-R Ad-Hoc
    Calibration for self evaluation
    Prepare and finalize initial description template information that is to be submitted to ITU-R WP 5D#29.
    Step 2: From early 2018 to Sep 2018, targeting “update & self eval” submission in Sep 2018
    Performance evaluation against eMBB, mMTC and URLLC requirements and test environments for NR and LTE features.
    Update description template and prepare compliance template according to self evaluation results.
    Provide description template, compliance template, and self evaluation results based on Rel-15 in Sep 2018.
    Step 3: From Sep 2018 to June 2019, targeting “Final” submission in June 2019
    Performance evaluation update by taking into account Rel-16 updates in addition to Rel-15
    Update description template and compliance template to take into account Rel-16 updates in addition to Rel-15
    Provide description template, compliance template, and self evaluation results based on Rel-15 and Rel-16 in June 2019.
    Also see: 3GPP Preparing the ground for IMT-2020 at

  3. What about this latest 5G CLAIM: 5G is helping make Pyeongchang the most high-tech Olympics ever
    Intel is hoping to dazzle fans with the technology by offering new ways of watching Olympic athletes. It’s set up 5G stations to track cross-country skiers, deployed dozens of cameras inside an ice arena, and made this the first Winter Olympics to be broadcast live in virtual reality.
    “We’re getting closer and closer to the athletes,” said Rob Topol, general manager of Intel’s 5G business. “Viewers can control the time, target, even the angle of what they’re viewing.”
    “This is a blueprint of what 5G can look like,” Topol told CNNMoney.
    But he stressed that what’s available in Pyeongchang is still “an early showcase” of the technology’s capabilities. The 5G signal that Intel and KT have set up covers a pretty limited area of roughly half a square mile.

  4. Why PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics are a 5G milestone
    …it’s the first commercial deployment of 5G networks, offering an insight into how the technology can power future applications.
    The 5G network is the industry’s first non-test environment, covering several PyeongChang 2018 venues. There are plenty of trials and testbeds taking place around the world, including in the UK, but this is a real-life deployment – even if the commercial devices are nowhere near ready.
    “It’s a wonderful platform to bring technology to events that are the pinnacle of sporting achievement,” said Intel’s Steve Shakespeare.

    Intel isn’t the only organisation using PyeongChang 2018 as a platform for 5G. The 5GCHAMPION consortium comprises 21 universities, research institutes and companies from Europe. It claims to have created a 5G ‘proof of concept’ network and has deployed it in a bus that will travel between venues in Gangneung, which is hosting the ice events at the games.

    While travelling on the bus, passengers wear VR glasses to be transported to a site in Finland using a network reaching 2.5Gbps.

    Of course, unlike Intel’s network, this is proof of concept, but after the games, researchers will travel to Seoul for a 5G Symposium.

    “The Winter Olympics … may offer a much-needed glimpse into early consumer applications of 5G, as companies are using the games to showcase some of the potential that the technology holds,” noted Kester Mann, an analyst with CCS Insight.

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