AT&T Inc. is joining the mobile speed race with Verizon Communications Inc., outlining plans for faster wireless technology to meet the increasing demand for sports, movies and even smartphone access to home appliances.
AT&T has chosen Ericsson AB and Intel Corp. as its first two development partners for 5G ultra-fast wireless-network technology that will pick up where today’s 4G, or fourth-generation, left off, according to a statement Friday.
While the mobile industry hasn’t yet established technology standards for 5G and the introduction isn’t expected until 2020, the two biggest U.S. carriers have announced road maps to stimulate development. Popular wireless services, such as live sports and streamed videos from Netflix Inc., are taxing the capacity of the current networks and driving the carriers’ investment in faster technology.
“I know Verizon says they will be first, but we are right there with them,” John Donovan, AT&T’s chief strategy officer and group president for technology and operations, said in an interview.
The new technology promises to provide users with faster connection speeds while lowering the carriers’ cost-per-byte to provide service. Verizon took the lead in September, announcing it would start field trials in 2016.
AT&T will be using high-frequency millimeter band radio spectrum that can offer speeds as fast as fiber-optic cable. The Dallas-based company will test the network technology in labs during the second quarter. After than, AT&T plans its first trials in point-to-point connections in preparation to deliver broadband connections to homes and businesses, Donovan said.