According to AT&T, the early tests show "positive signs" for customers in the future who would use the multi-gigabit speeds and low latency of 5G, which the carrier even hints as a possible benefit if included in self-driving cars. Overall, results from AT&T's tests describe speeds that are "10-100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE wireless connections."
“We’ve seen great results in our 5G lab trials, including reaching speeds above 10 gigabits per second in early tests with Ericsson,” said Tom Keathley, senior vice president – wireless network architecture and design, AT&T. “Nokia is joining to help us test millimeter wave (mmWave), which we expect to play a key role in 5G development and deployment. The work coming out of AT&T Labs will pave the way toward future international 5G standards and allow us to deliver these fast 5G speeds and network performance across the U.S.”
In addition, the company announced today that Middletown, New Jersey will be joining Austin, Texas as a testing ground for the carrier's 5G trial run. The small-scale tests help AT&T -- along with partner Nokia -- "simulate real-world environment scenarios" to see what kind of strain the service can handle before a wide launch. Labs are also being set up in Atlanta and San Ramon, California to begin software architecture work on 5G's infrastructure.
As it stands, 5G is still a ways off. AT&T admits that the company -- and any carrier interested in the new wireless technology -- must wait for a new standards-setting process that is expected to be completed by a group of telecommunication associations, known as the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, in 2018.
Following that, AT&T's own 5G network rollout is expected a few years later in 2020, and Apple's adoption is completely unclear in terms of which potential future iPhone would support 5G. Despite being so far off, AT&T hopes its tests in Middletown and Austin help introduce a "strategy for future deployment" of 5G once the standard becomes widespread.