AT&T beaming AirGig broadband from power lines

AT&T’s AirGig technology sends data along antennas mounted to power line towers or poles.

AT&T

Sure, you can dig trenches across the land and fill them up with fiber-optic cables, but AT&T[1] has begun testing what it says is a promising alternative called AirGig that relies on radio signals instead. Unveiled last year, AirGig sends data from one antenna to another along power lines[2] in rural, suburban or urban areas. It also sends data to nearby buildings at speeds of about 1 gigabit per second[3] — something like 15 times faster than the average US broadband data-transfer rate[4].

AT&T now has two trials underway, one a suburban test in an undisclosed country outside the US, and another in partnership with Georgia Power in a more rural location, the company announced Tuesday night. “If these trials and our continued research and development turn out the way we intend, we’ll take a big step toward bringing hyperfast connectivity to people everywhere,” Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and the company’s chief technology officer, said in a statement.

Hyperfast internet access sounds hyperbolic, but there’s our appetite for network data is insatiable and growing[5], so any new technology can help. In practice, we’re likely to be served by new short- and long-range radio links, ever-faster data links on traditional phone and cable TV lines to our homes, and fiber optic lines, too.

Indeed, AT&T’s broadband business is stringing fiber along phone lines in several cities around the US.

AT&T beaming AirGig broadband from power lines Now Playing: Watch this: What the heck is a 5G network? 1:29

The tests are going well in both the rural and suburban areas, a sign that it’s meeting its potential, AT&T said. The tests will last months, but it’s not yet clear when AT&T will commercialize the technology. AirGig has the potential to stretch to some rural areas where expensive and pokey satellite-based broadband is the only practical option.

But even though AT&T says it takes only minutes for trained operators to install the antennas, hardware and labor costs will add up over the miles.

AirGig also could serve as something of a backbone for the 5G mobile networks expected to arrive starting in 2019[6], AT&T said.

Today’s phones[7] use fourth-generation (4G) mobile network technology called LTE, but 5G is expected to boost speed and reliability, especially in crowded areas.

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Internet[9] Google Fiber[10] AT&T[11]

References

  1. ^ AT&T (www.cnet.com)
  2. ^ AirGig sends data from one antenna to another along power lines (www.cnet.com)
  3. ^ 1 gigabit per second (www.cnet.com)
  4. ^ average US broadband data-transfer rate (www.speedtest.net)
  5. ^ our appetite for network data is insatiable and growing (www.cnet.com)
  6. ^ 5G mobile networks expected to arrive starting in 2019 (www.cnet.com)
  7. ^ phones (www.cnet.com)
  8. ^ Tags (www.cnet.com)
  9. ^ Internet (www.cnet.com)
  10. ^ Google Fiber (www.cnet.com)
  11. ^ AT&T (www.cnet.com)

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