Verizon is already testing a 5G network, and now AT&T has joined them at the cool-kids table, announcing that it will be doing the same in 2016. While Verizon was expecting speeds a mere 30-50 times faster than 4G LTE, AT&T has set a higher goal.
We expect 5G to deliver speeds 10-100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE connections. Customers will see speeds measured in gigabits per second, not megabits. For reference, at one gigabit per second, you can download a TV show in less than 3 seconds. Customers will also see much lower latency with 5G. Latency, for example, is how long it takes after you press play on a video app for the video to start streaming on your device. We expect 5G latency in the range of 1 to 5 milliseconds.
“New experiences like virtual reality, self-driving cars, robotics, smart cities and more are about to test networks like never before,” said John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President, AT&T Technology and Operations. “These technologies will be immersive, pervasive and responsive to customers. 5G will help make them a reality.”
While the fifth-generation speeds definitely sound exciting, don’t expect to go into your local AT&T or Verizon store tomorrow and pick up a new 5G-capable smartphone or tablet. There is currently no international agreement on standards for the new generation of wireless data. The original timetable for the new standard called for a draft standard sometime in 2018, with a rollout by 2020.
Carriers are pushing for at least some level of 5G service to be offered by next year, as Re/code reports AT&T is hoping to offer broadband to homes in remote areas via 5G, and it believes it can do this even before any mobile data standards are set in stone.