Smartphones these days pull down data at lightning-fast speeds thanks to 4G LTE connections, and modern data-hungry apps are all too ready to use as much of that bandwidth as they can get their greedy hands on. We’ve come a long way from sluggish 2G connections, or even the days when 3G was the norm, but just because we’re regularly pulling down data at megabit speeds doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on progress now. Carriers are already looking to next-gen 5G networks as they get ready to bring wireless data to a growing base of smartphone users, and last year we heard Verizon talk about its plans for early 5G testing. Now AT&T’s letting us in on its own 5G aspirations, which could bring us low-latency connectivity clocking in at gigabits per second.
AT&T’s shooting for lab-condition 5G testing sometime next quarter, followed by real-world trials over the summer. If everything goes well, the first field trial could come to Austin, TX later in the year.
Granted, 5G standards aren’t even set in stone yet, but AT&T’s looking to get a head start with associated tech such that it will be in a good position to get ready with formal implementation once those standards are defined. That will still be quite a ways off, though, with decisions not expected to start landing until sometime in 2018.
Does that make it too soon to start getting excited about 5G? Well, arguably, as we’ll probably have gone through a couple new phones for ourselves before we ever have the chance to pick up a 5G-equipped model. But that day is still coming, as distant as it may seem, and it’s nice to know that carriers are fixing to be ready for these high-performance 5G phones when they finally arrive.