AT&T launches fixed wireless trial, targets apartment complexes

AT&T has begun a hybrid millimeter wave (mmWave) wireless and wireline technology trial, targeting apartment complexes outside of its wireline service area to deliver up to 100 Mbps in areas where it has not been able to reach potential broadband users.

But 100 Mbps is just the start of its bandwidth ambitions. AT&T indicated that it plans to make faster speeds available, including a possible 500 Mbps tier that it will test through this fixed-wireless solution.

To deliver the service to each user, AT&T is using mmWave wireless technology to send a multi-gigabit signal from a central building connected to fiber to neighboring locations, and then is connecting each unit over the existing in-building wiring. When a neighboring building receives the multi-gigabit mmWave wireless signal, AT&T converts it to a wired internet connection. The telco then uses existing or new wiring in the property to offer internet access directly to each unit.

When customers that reside in these properties sign up for service, they can plug their Wi-Fi router into an existing wall outlet to get internet service in their apartment.

AT&T did not specify what millimeter wave spectrum band it is using for this trial.

Perhaps not surprisingly, AT&T is keen on being able to offer a bundle of internet, DirecTV and wireless services to apartment complexes and multifamily communities in a variety of metro areas.

AT&T said residents in these trial properties will be able to access its DirecTV service. By using a single satellite dish on the building to send a video signal to a centralized distribution system for the property, AT&T can offer DirecTV service in every unit without satellite dishes on balconies.

While the service provider did not specify exactly the first market that could get the service, AT&T did cite some large cities like Boston and Washington, D.C., as potential candidates.

“We’re evaluating the expansion of this fixed-wireless millimeter wave solution to connect additional properties outside of our traditional wireline service area,” AT&T said in a statement. “Additional areas under consideration where we might connect more properties include, but are not limited to, Boston, Denver, New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington D.C.”

AT&T’s mmWave goals aren’t just relegated to apartment buildings.

In September, the service provider unveiled Project AirGig, an initiative to extend gigabit wireless internet speeds over existing power lines.

The telco plans to use the technology to potentially deliver multi-gigabit speeds in urban, rural and underserved markets by distributing bandwidth over low-cost plastic antennas and devices located along or near the power line to regenerate mmWave signals that can be used for 4G LTE and 5G multi-gigabit mobile and fixed deployments. But there’s no direct electrical connection to the power line that’s required.

For more:
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