AT&T may model 5G service plans on speed and latency

For the most part, the postpaid wireless industry has kept to few criteria for stratifying different service packages to its customers. Users would get this much data allotted at high-speeds or this much access to the LTE network before being booted down to 3G or even 2G.

But in the near future, AT&T could impose new tiers based on data speeds and latency. FierceWireless reports that the telco is looking into expanding its range of all-included service packages as well as add-ons as the company builds out its 5G network — the implication that it will be so complex, fast and reliable that AT&T will be able to offer plans with a range of latency guarantees.

“I think the business models are still evolving,” said David Christopher, AT&T’s lead for consumer wireless and video. “There’s certainly an opportunity for new consumer consumption models.”

There are different needs in the field from competitive gaming to video uploads to low-maintenance Internet of Things tasks that will rely on the what has been framed by networks as the singular capacity of 5G.

In the prepaid market, AT&T-owned carrier Cricket Wireless caps all service to a maximum downlink of 8Mbps — and even after a certain point, those speeds get throttled to 2G levels. Independently-owned US Mobile, however, offers unlimited data plans with tiers based on different speed caps, much like traditional fixed broadband providers do — perhaps we’ll be seeing more of that as we head into the future.

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Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.