News Feature | October 17, 2018

The Week In 5G: 10/17/2018 – AT&T To Begin mmWave Tests, Xiaomi To Unveil First True 5G Phone

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq


AT&T is set to run three millimeter wave (mmWave) tests on ultra-high band frequencies ahead of the rollout of its 5G network in 12 U.S. cities later this year.

According to Light Reading, AT&T has applied for experimental licenses to test the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio standard in Atlanta, Hawaii, and Los Angeles.  

"Applicant's 5G demonstrations will involve communications between up to 3 fixed (FX) base stations and up to 10 user equipment (UE) units placed within 100 meters of the base station antennas," said AT&T in a letter of plans for indoor tests at a resort in Hawaii, reported Light Reading. Licenses in Atlanta will be used in outdoor stadium tests, while the one in Los Angeles will be performed in a trial at the University of Southern California campus.

AT&T is rolling out 5G services in Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, San Antonio, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, and Waco, Texas, by the end of 2018. Testing the 5G NR standard a few months ahead could allow AT&T deliver 5G better than Verizon, whose 5G rollout last week hit a wall, quite literally.

Verizon's commercial 5G network (based on its own communications standard called 5G TF) reportedly was more limited in its service coverage than advertised because the mmWave signals were not able to penetrate buildings and other obstacles in and around the homes of those who signed up for the service. 

“There wasn't a strong enough signal,” Wilson Calvert, a Verizon customer in Houston, told IEEE Spectrum. “My neighbor's garage apartment was between my apartment and the micro cell installation. We were able to get signal outside of units that did not have a building in the way.”

Those who did receive the signals, though, reported that the service was "top notch" with one customer reporting speeds of "900+ megabytes per second (mbps) downstream (wired), 600+ downstream (wireless), 200+ upstream," according to Spectrum.

At these speeds, U.S. consumers will save 23 hours of loading time — almost one full day — per month while browsing social media, gaming online, streaming music, and downloading TV shows and movies, reported PC Mag, citing

"With 4G, the cell towers (network nodes) are designed to reach as broad of an area as possible," stated. "In the simplest terms, 5G is like having high-powered Wi-Fi routers dispersed all over the city to function as the network nodes. So, your internet provider's network will function more like your home network, but much faster."

Carriers are planning to build thousands of data centers to offload much of the computing power away from the phone and to link up self-driving cars and connected devices.

Seeing the carriers’ plans, mobile chipmaker Arm decided, "let’s increase the investment and build a specific product line and architectural designs for that particular area," Drew Henry, senior VP at Arm, told Fortune. The company — which licenses its chip designs to Apple, Samsung and Qualcomm — is hoping its new Neoverse chips will be adopted, as well as its smartphone microprocessors.

Chipmaker giant Qualcomm itself just launched a new family of chips for 5G. Qualcomm's latest chips is an upgrade on what is known as the WiGig connection standard to a new version which can reach speeds twice as fast (up to 10 gigabits per second) to a wider area (up to 100 meters), according to The Verge.

But, because it's based on mmWave technology, those speeds can only be reached if there is a clear line of sight and no walls impede the signals. Thus, instead of replacing traditional WiFi, this kind of WiFi technology should suit more specific purposes, like replacing a virtual reality headset’s data cable with a high-speed wireless link.

In other news this week, BGR reported that Xiaomi will unveil what the company claims is the world's first true 5G phone next week, Oct. 25. Teaser images indicate that the Mi Mix 3 is a bezel-less phone featuring a slide-up mechanism with 5G support.

Meanwhile, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the 5G Infrastructure Association (5G IA) signed a joint letter of intent to pool resources and collaborate on 5G trials in specific European markets, according to IOT Evolution World. Satellite operators can offer to clear portions of spectrum — particularly C-band frequencies — for terrestrial companies fast-tracking their 5G deployments.

The latest in the U.S./Huawei saga involves two leading U.S. lawmakers urging Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to drop China’s Huawei Technologies from participating in Canada's 5G deployment. In a letter addressed to Trudeau, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), and Marco Rubio (R-Florida), expressed "grave concerns" about Huawei operating in Canada, whose telecommunications security safeguards, they said, are "inadequate given what the United States and other allies know about Huawei," reported Reuters. The Chinese company has repeatedly denied that its equipment and phones are spying on the U.S. and its allies.