By Corrie Coleman | Reporter
AT&T has announced that they will be bringing 5G broadband to three cities in the U.S.: Dallas, Atlanta and Waco. The Dallas-based network provider plans to release 5G service by the end of 2018.
AT&T stays that it is the only carrier in the nation that has publicized plans to launch 5G service.
5G will be the fifth generation of wireless broadband technology. Bob Hartland, Director of IT Servers and Networking Services at Baylor, said each time a new generation is released, the service speed increases.
“In the cellular world, you started off with the brick phones. That was 1G. Then you went to 2G, which was your flip phones, and now you have the ability to text. Each generation, they’ve been able to add features mainly because they’ve been able to add speeds,” said Hartland. “Each generation, they’re getting faster and faster and faster. The 5G is supposed to … be as much as 200 times faster than 4G.”
Dave Wolter, assistant vice president for radio technology and strategy at AT&T, said the speed offered by 5G will create opportunities for new technologies, such as self-driving cars and advances in virtual reality.
“It’s going to do quite a bit of reduction on latency, which is a delay between the time information is requested, goes through the system and comes back,” Wolter said. “It can handle a lot of different types of applications from handling moisture sensors in a farmer’s field to 8K 3D video virtual reality.”
Many expect 5G to drive the development of “the internet of things,” the concept of everyday items like toasters and cars being connected through the internet.
“Everything today is being connected and that’s only going to accelerate over the next few years,” Wolter said. “At some point, that’s going to become too much and too high a density for current technology to handle. So this technology will greatly expand the ability to make sure everything is connected … It’s going to open up whole new areas that were not possible before.”
Wolter said Waco was chosen partially because of its convenient location between Dallas and Austin. Additionally, the presence of Baylor students and Magnolia Silos make Waco an attractive choice.
“You’ve got the big university there and some other customers like the Silos,” Wolter said. “It seemed to be a good place to try it out.”
According to Wolter, 5G will require new devices that are compatible with the new system.
“The devices you have today won’t support it,” Wolter said.
Some buildings on Baylor’s campus have already been equipped with 5G antennas.
“AT&T has some cellular service on campus and they approached us last year saying they want us to put up some 5G antennas at some sights,” Hartland said. “We have got two departments on campus that said that they would be willing to help test.”
Hartland thinks that eventually, the majority of people will have 5G devices.
“When you hear the difference in magnitude and speed of data, it’s staggering … The consumers are an information-hungry group,” Hartland said. “Buckle up. That’s where things are headed.”