Video streaming across a fixed 5G network is now a part of AT&T 5G trials as the carrier introduces DIRECTV NOW streaming to its Austin 5G trial. Fixed wireless 5G trials began in Austin back in 2016. Austin joins Middletown, New Jersey, where video streaming over millimeter wave (mmWave) testing is also taking place in a lab environment.

DIRECTV NOW is AT&T’s OTT streaming service that delivers a live channel line-up, as well as video-on-demand to both mobile devices and streaming set-top-boxes like Apple TV. The Middletown trial was the first time the streaming service has been delivered over a 5G connection, according to AT&T. Video now makes up half of AT&T data traffic they report.

“During this trial, we expect to further advance our 5G learnings – especially in how fixed wireless mmWave technology handles heavy video traffic,” an AT&T spokesperson tells Telecompetitor. “We have said from the start that our goal was to build a nationwide network that enables our customers to view video where and on whatever device they choose, and in the future 5G world we expect that would include both mobile and fixed line connections.”

The Austin trial is using Ericsson’s 5G RAN and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform. The trial aims to deliver 1 Gbps downstream throughput through a fixed wireless connection. While not revealing the total number of trial locations, the AT&T spokesperson tells Telecompetitor multiple residential, small business and enterprise locations in Austin are a part of the trial.

“This trial, part of our long-term collaboration with AT&T that builds on the success of our first fixed wireless 5G Austin trial, provides the business and consumer participants a chance to experience the type of services and market opportunities they can expect in their daily lives with enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-fast speeds and reliable network capabilities,” said Sandra Rivera, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Network Platforms Group in an AT&T press release.

5G Applications
AT&T highlighted some applications they feel 5G will enable, including:

  • A local car wash or dentist office will be able to offer connectivity that allows customers to do things like immerse in augmented or virtual reality as they pass the time.
  • A bustling neighborhood coffee shop can offer ultra-fast internet speeds to everyone working on a laptop or on a video call via their mobile device.
  • A hometown retail shop can utilize the enhanced reliability to enable an all mobile checkout experience.

AT&T says these AT&T 5G trials are laying the groundwork for a late 2018 launch of commercial 5G. They plan a 3GPP 5G standards compliant service, which is being helped by an accelerated timeline for those standards. Equipment and chipset standards are expected towards the end of this year, and both fixed and mobile standards are expected around mid-2018.

“Tomorrow’s 5G speeds likely will not only rival traditional wireline connections, but we expect that the pioneering work that we have done in network virtualization and software defined networking – both big components of 5G – will help enable our network to handle the growth in data consumption driven by mobile video and advanced applications,” the spokesperson said.

This post has been updated.