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AT&T Joins With Peers and Tech Partners to Speed Up 5G Standards Development

August 19, 2016 By Steve Senne in

AT&T is engaged in preliminary discussions with China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, KDDI, LG, Nokia, NTT DOCOMO, Qualcomm, Samsung, SK Telecom, Telstra and Vodaphone to collaborate on development of industry standards for next-gen 5G wireless broadband technology. The goal is to add momentum to 5G deployments in the wake of the initial release of the first official 3GPP 5G technical specification, which is slated to occur in June 2018.

“We’re joining other tech leaders to find and resolve key standards issues early and bring 5G to market sooner.” Tom Keathley, AT&T SVP, wireless network and architecture and design, was quoted in a news release. “Interim and fragmented pre-standard specifications can distract from the ultimate goal. Linking trials to the standards process is the fastest path to large-scale global 5G deployment.

5G industry collaboration and the drive to gain a competitive edge

AT&T expects 5G wireless networks will deliver Internet data at speeds 10-100 times faster than today’s average. Management publicly released AT&T’s 5G roadmap in February.

In this latest announcement, AT&T said it is accelerating 5G trials designed to test over-the-air interoperability of 5G equipment based on 3GPP’s New Radio (NR) specifications. Doing so now will help ensure the technology will work and perform as expected as development of final 3GPP 5G specs continues, management points out.

This and other 5G initiatives are key to AT&T’s strategic plan, as well as those of other carriers, ISPs and participants throughout the wireless broadband industry value chain. That includes employing software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) to re-architect its network infrastructure in order to launch new cloud-based apps and services faster and at less cost.

Late last month, AT&T announced it is working with Orange to develop open source SDN and NFV standards.   In an Aug. 17 company blog post, AT&T’s SVP of Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design wrote about AT&T’s expanding collaboration with Intel across a range of SDN and NFV fronts.

These and other initiatives illustrate how AT&T and leading network services providers around the world are gearing up their 5G-related activities in advance of the anticipated release of the first global 5G industry standard specifications in 2018.