AT&T said that they are in advanced discussion with the power companies to start the trials of their latest broadband technology by this fall. It is rumored that the trials will be conducted in at least two locations by fall. This is a part of the project AirGig that was announced by AT&T in September 2016.
AirGig is a wireless technology even though it depends on the power lines to work. Antennas are placed on utility poles and these antennas send wireless signals to each other. AT&T said that the power lines “serve as a guide for the signals,” making sure that the signals reaches their destination. AT&T said that these wireless signals could be used to deliver internet services that offer speeds in multi-gigabits.
AT&T has not yet announced the location of the trials, but the latest announcement says, “One location will be in the United States with others to be determined in the coming months.” AT&T has also not released the details on the commencement of the commercial deployment of the service, but it seems that AT&T is much excited about the project.
“Future field trials will demonstrate how Project AirGig works to support power companies’ smart grid technologies, such as meter, appliance, and usage control systems and early detection of powerline integrity issues,” AT&T officials said. “The trials will also evaluate the technology during inclement weather, such as rain, snow, and high winds. Importantly, we can more precisely determine the cost of deployment while maintaining the highest signal quality for a customer.”
It is not clear if any individual users will get to use AirGig service in the trials. When asked about this, AT&T officials said, “That’s among the details we’re working out for the first trials.” Even though AT&T has made fiber optic network available to about four million user locations across the nation, their old copper networks have not been upgraded in many locations offering painfully slow internet to many of the users.
It seems that AT&T has no rush to help all their customers get access to modern internet speeds, but they are also testing other technologies in addition to AirGig to help rural customers. One such technology is G.Fast, which is a new version of DSL to increase internet speeds over the copper lines. “Based on the learnings of a G.Fast trial at a multifamily property in Minneapolis, we plan to make the technology available at additional locations beginning mid-2017,” AT&T said.