AT&T and Nokia completed what the vendor calls the first call on AT&T’s network using 5G technology in C-band spectrum. The call, which was conducted early last month in Detroit, was not announced until today.
AT&T expects to cover 200 million people with 5G deployed in the C-band by the end of 2023. The carrier already has widely deployed 5G in other spectrum bands, but the C-band is important because it is seen by many as supporting an attractive mix of balance and capacity. While service deployed in the band is not as fast as high frequency mmWave spectrum, it has far broader propagation characteristics and, according to proponents, enough capacity for a wide array of uses.
The C-band spectrum was awarded to AT&T three months ago. The company won the spectrum in an auction that completed earlier this year.
AT&T and Nokia recently signed a five-year contract for C-band network deployment across the United States.
The Detroit call was made with a 5G smartphone form factor mobile test device using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X555G modem-RF system, the Nokia AirScale baseband and 5G massive MIMO (mMIMO) antennas that, along with Nokia 5G software, operates in the newly available n77 (3700-3980 MHz) spectrum.
“AT&T is committed to bringing the power of 5G to even more businesses and communities across the nation.” Kevin Hetrick, AT&T’s Vice President for Construction & Engineering said in a press release. “In fact, we’ve committed to covering more people with C-band by the end of 2023 than any other carrier. Our planned C-Band launch with Nokia will add 5G capacity and coverage where it’s needed.
The C band auction grossed more than $80.9 billion, which is almost double the previous record of $44.9 billion. AT&T was one of the biggest spenders in the auction.