Articles

New Orleans May Serve as AT&T 5G Service Testing Ground

AT&T officials have forecast that the new technology is still at least a year away, but New Orleans will likely be one of its testing grounds for the technology.

by Richard Thompson, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. / February 2, 2017
Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

(TNS) -- New Orleans may be moving into the fast lane: AT&T is considering the city for the rollout of its new, ultrafast 5G wireless technology, which is still being developed for commercial use, city records show.

The telecommunications giant filed a public-records request with the city late last month that noted New Orleans is being considered as a possible site for the emerging technology.

The records request sought "any contracts that the city may have executed with respect to allowing telecommunications companies or their agents to affix equipment to city-owned property" over a two-year period.

In particular, AT&T sought copies of contracts between the city and any company, organization or third party dealing with "the ability to attach wireless telecommunications equipment to city-owned utility poles, street lights, billboards or structures, or any other city-owned infrastructure for the purpose of expanding cellular network coverage."

Few details are available, including what kind of timeline the company has in mind and what other cities are in the running.

New Orleans officials said they responded to the company's request and consider it closed, but it's unclear whether the company was satisfied with the response.

“We take a calculated, deliberate approach in rolling out new or upgraded services, and we evaluate each city, including New Orleans, on a market-by-market basis to ensure the best possible customer experience," Tarvis Thompson, an AT&T spokesman, said. "As part of that process, we regularly work with local governments to determine options of deploying network resources.”

In an announcement last month detailing its plans for expanding the high-speed wireless technology, AT&T said it had conducted initial lab trials that had hit wireless connection speeds of up to 14 gigabits per second.

AT&T officials have forecast that a standard for the new technology is still at least a year away, with the first mobile networks becoming commercially available in the coming years.

One thing's for certain: It will be fast.

AT&T anticipates that 5G will deliver speeds at least 10 times and perhaps 100 times faster than current 4G LTE connections, allowing users to download a typical TV show in less than three seconds.

©2017 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.