AT&T is moving relatively slowly in comparison to its competitors for its 5G network rollout. The company is still testing its standalone 5G network and has made no announcements regarding when it will deploy its technology. Andre Fuetsch, CTO of AT&T Services, spoke at Brooklyn 6G Summit said that the company is testing its 5G SA core that will enable cloud-native functions and network slicing but didn’t give any information on when the company would launch its 5G SA network.
Out of all the carriers, AT&T has been the biggest proponent of virtualizing its core network. AT&T announced in September 2020 that it had reached its goal of virtualizing over 75% of its network functions. This is a bit different from what AT&T said in September 2020, saying that it was testing its 5G SA core with plans for a full launch in 2021. T-Mobile is the only carrier thus far to deploy 5G SA nationwide in August of 2020 on its 600 MHz spectrum.
During the event, Fuetsch called out AT&T’s C-band 5G buildout, which he said will provide a “good balance of coverage and capacity.” He also said that AT&T plans to cover anywhere between 70-75 million people with its 5G C-band network by the end of 2022 and 200 million by the end of 2023.
At the summit, Fuetsch spoke about AT&T’s 5G Innovation Studio, where AT&T is working with companies and consumers to develop compelling 5G use cases and applications. The studio’s goal is to quickly bring products to the market and provide an environment where customers can test and explore using advanced network capabilities.
One example Fuetsch was excited to share was AT&T’s work with Microsoft Azure on autonomous drone control with Vorpal, an Israeli startup. Vorpal can track thousands of drones to stop air accidents and other safety hazards between drones and commercial airlines.
Fuetsch stated he was excited to see what 5G brings to the future and help create new opportunities for smart cities and smart industrial uses because of 5G’s low latency and breakneck speeds.