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 ([email protected]) 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




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

  1. 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.

  2. Sanyogita Shamsunder, vice president, 5G Ecosystems & Innovation for Verizon. “Verizon continues to lead the way toward the realization of true 5G technology.” Not AT&T?

    AT&T Chairs ITU-R WP5D which is responsible for radio aspects of IMT 2020

  3. AT&T Adds Trio of New Cities for 5G Launch in 2018
    said Friday that it is adding Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. and Oklahoma City to its 5G buildout plans, along with the already announced markets in Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco, Texas. The operator has said that it will launch 5G in up to 12 towns and cities in the US by the end of the year. (See AT&T Reveals Initial 5G Cities.)

    AT&T now has the most aggressive announced plans for delivering 5G in the US in 2018. The carrier has now said that it will provide 3GPP-based mobile — not just fixed — 5G in six named markets in the US in 2018.
    AT&T hasn’t yet said what spectrum band it will use for its initial 5G deployments, although many in the industry widely anticipate 39GHz. AT&T has so far previewed gigabit — or near-gigabit — speeds from its initial fixed 5G tests. Availability of devices is going to be an issue for all very early 5G. Light Reading has talked to several vendors recently, and the expectation is that some 5G hotspots will be available in the fourth quarter of 2018, with smartphones following in the first half of 2019.
    AT&T has previously said that it will launch with a “mobile puck” in 2018, apparently a type of a nomadic 5G router that converts a 5G signal to WiFi to connect other devices.

  4. AT&T plans to introduce mobile 5G in parts of five additional cities – Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio – this year. These new cities are in addition to seven cities where we’ve already announced plans to launch mobile 5G this year – Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, and Waco.

    Looking forward to early 2019, we’ll keep our 5G momentum going and plan to introduce mobile 5G in parts of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. From these 19 cities, we’ll continue to expand.

    Over the weekend, in Waco, Texas, working with our key technology collaborators, we made the world’s first wireless 5G data transfer over millimeter wave using standards-based, production equipment with a mobile form factor device. Not a lab. Not preproduction hardware. Not emulators. And fully compliant with global standards.

    ”We’re at the dawn of something new that will define the next decade and generation of connectivity,” said Andre Fuetsch, chief technology officer, AT&T Communications. “Future smart factories and retailers, self-driving cars, untethered virtual and augmented realities, and other yet to be discovered experiences will grow up on tomorrow’s 5G networks. Much like 4G introduced the world to the gig economy, mobile 5G will jumpstart the next wave of unforeseen innovation.”

    How we’re doing it

    Our 5G deployment strategy will include using millimeter wave spectrum to deploy 5G in pockets of dense areas – where demand on our network is high and extra capacity and coverage is needed most. In other parts of urban areas and in suburban and rural areas, we plan to deploy 5G on our mid and low-band spectrum holdings. We’ve been encouraged by the performance of mmWave in our 5G trials and found that it performs better than expected and is successful in delivering ultra-high wireless speeds under a variety of conditions.

    In addition, our foundational 5G Evolution technology is now live in more than 200 markets, reaching 400+ markets this year. 5G Evolution markets are locations where we’ve deployed the latest technologies that enable peak theoretical wireless speeds of at least 400 megabits per second** on capable devices.

    For this weekend’s successful Waco activation, our engineering teams used a Qualcomm Technologies’ smartphone form factor test device with integrated Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X50 5G modem and RF subsystem and Ericsson 5G-NR capable radios connected to our virtual 3X standards compliant core. This helps us to ensure that when smartphones and other mobile devices are available to consumers, our mobile 5G network will be ready to go.

    “This weekend’s call between a 5G base station in the field and a smartphone form factor 5G device brings us one step closer to commercial 5G networks and mobile devices,” said David Nash, vice president, Business Development, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “We will continue to work with industry leaders such as Ericsson and AT&T to help ensure consumers will be able to experience the benefits of commercial 5G networks and mobile devices.”

  5. Who we’re working with:

    To help us build our mobile, nationwide 5G network, we’ve selected Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung as our technology suppliers. Working with these three suppliers, we’ve already started deploying 3GPP Release 15 compliant equipment in a handful of our early 5G cities.

    “5G is coming, faster than many realize. By working closely with AT&T and other key collaborators on successful 5G trials over the years, we’ve brought 3GPP mobility standards-based 5G technology closer to commercial reality today,” said Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of Business Area Networks, Ericsson. “Our joint efforts will enable AT&T’s mobile 5G network to ultimately deliver on the future promises of high-speed connectivity and very low latency to its customers.”

    “Nokia is excited to work with AT&T to seamlessly accelerate the transformation of their network to 5G,” said Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks, Nokia. “Building on Nokia’s 5G technology, services and expertise, we enable AT&T to develop new business models and bring new services to the market.”

    “5G will ultimately deliver unprecedented user experiences and business models that require ground-breaking solutions, along with the exploration of new spectrum bands such as mmWave,” said Mark Louison, senior vice president and general manager, Networks Division, Samsung Electronics America. “Samsung is delighted to continue our journey towards this transformative technology with AT&T – from a successful consumer trial in South Bend, Indiana, to wide-scale commercial rollouts – and we look forward to applying our experience in advanced network deployments, backed by our broad capabilities.”

    Pushing 5G Forward at AT&T Foundry Innovation Centers

    Since 2011, the AT&T Foundry has collaborated with customers to combine their innovative ideas with our network capabilities, then rapidly create and test prototypes for deployable products and solutions.

    In the next few months, we’ll start creating 5G-enabled technologies with the potential to disrupt entire industries at our AT&T Foundry innovation center in Plano. So whether it’s moving personalized shopping experiences closer to our customers or allowing surgeons to perform operations from a remote location, AT&T will be at the forefront of bringing these 5G-enabled industry capabilities to market faster.

    We’ll also outfit our Foundry innovation centers in Atlanta and Palo Alto with 5G. At these locations, we’ll focus on IoT and smart cities concepts and test consumer-focused applications like VR gaming and volumetric video. In fact, we recently launched a project to accelerate higher quality streaming and capture of volumetric video over a 5G connection. We previewed a concept of what this might look like at our SHAPE Conference earlier this year. Because volumetric video requires a significant amount of data to capture and stream 3D forms, the AT&T Foundry will be improving and testing this concept in an edge compute environment.

    5G and Mobile Gaming in Action

    5G will change how you’ll enjoy and engage with entertainment while on the go. At our AT&T Spark innovation event in San Francisco today, NVIDIA and Ericsson will demo a potential 5G/edge use case for gaming. They will show a live, cloud-based playthrough of the upcoming game Shadow of the Tomb Raider over a live 5G mobile signal to demonstrate how powerful compute and graphics capabilities in the network could someday power the sorts of high-end applications that currently require standalone hardware.

    “Our GeForce NOW cloud gaming service lets you play the most demanding PC games on most devices,” said Phil Eisler, general manager of GeForce NOW at NVIDIA. “With AT&T’s 5G mobile network, gamers will soon be able to enjoy those same unparalleled immersive experiences wherever they go.”

    Investing more than any other company

    Over the past 5 years, we invested nearly $145 billion in our wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisition of wireless spectrum and operations. During this same period, AT&T invested more in the U.S. than any other public company. Our wireless network now covers more than 99% of Americans, our fiber network is one of the nation’s largest and we connect more IoT devices than any other provider in North America. Additionally, more than 3 million businesses, from the largest global companies to small businesses, turn to AT&T.

  6. Guidance offered by Mr. Francois Rancy, as a Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau (ITU-R) in his opening remarks to the 19 November, 2018 ITU-R Study Group 5 meeting where he expressed the following views on IMT-2020:

    “Beyond WRC-19, I would like to stress the importance of the work of the Study Group for IMT-2020 telecommunications. Of course the work of the world conference is essential to provide harmonized spectrum, but in addition to that, the work of the standards in my mind is essential to ensure all those economies of scale for hopefully one standard and interoperability and roaming throughout the world.

    And if we want to build the global village which is the ambition of the ITU, we need to try to converge on a single standard harmonized worldwide to ensure. Not all parts of the world can be connected especially in the 50% population which currently is yet to be connected and to be able to do that we need to rely on the world’s globally harmonized standard. So thanks for your efforts.

    We have to keep in mind that investments for 5G will probably represent something like 10,000 billion dollars worldwide and when you are in this type of amount of money you can’t afford to have two standards, you can’t afford to divide the world into two incompatible types of devices. So this is really the challenge that Study Group 5 and Working Party 5D have to meet and I’m sure you are aware of the importance of these discussions…”

    Webcast of SG 5 meeting:

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