The goal of Project AirGig is provide 1 Gbps-plus broadband using electrical utility infrastructure
AT&T has been gestating Project AirGig for some time and, today, announced a milestone with trials beginning at an international location and in Georgia in conjunction with utility Georgia Power. The foundation of AirGig is leveraging ubiquitous electrical infrastructure by placing radios, antenna and backhaul equipment on utility poles, then tapping millimeter wave spectrum to provide high-capacity broadband.
For a breakdown of the infrastructure involved, check out this analysis from Earl Lum of EJL Wireless Research. According to AT&T, the long-term goal is to erase the need for new towers and cable runs by accessing pervasive power lines.
“Project AirGig is part of our ongoing effort to accelerate internet connections to a gig or more through both wired and wireless solutions,” Andre Fuetsch, president, AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer, said in a statement. “But it also stands alone as a radically innovative solution to bridge the global digital divide. If these trials and our continued research and development turn out the way we intend, we’ll take a big step toward bringing hyper-fast connectivity to people everywhere.”
AT&T didn’t disclose details of the trial outside the U.S. other than to say it’s being conducted with an electric provider; in Georgia, the trial is being conducted in a rural area, although the operator noted AirGig “could be deployed in many areas not served by high speed broadband today–rural, suburban or urban.”
In a column published earlier this year by RCR Wireless News, Atlanta-based analyst Jeff Kagan laid out the value prop of this transmission scheme: “This is so much more cost effective for the company and so much easier for them to deliver an ultra-fast, gigabit speed, wireless internet connection anywhere there are power lines. If this works, it will give them the potential to radically expand their market size and provide better service everywhere.”