AT&T discusses mobile 5G plans during MWCA

Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and the company’s chief technology officer, didn’t mince words in a meeting with reporters during Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles. He characterized competitor Verizon’s 5G Home service, which gained significant share of voice during the show, as “homegrown” and “proprietary.”

Verizon is launching a 5G-branded fixed wireless home broadband service that is initially based on the company’s Verizon Technical Forum standard rather than 3GPP’s 5G New Radio specification. The broadband service will be available in four markets at first. Verizon has detailed plans to upgrade related sites with 5G NR-compatible equipment and is also planning a mobile 5G service for 2019. AT&T is touting its plans to make standards-based mobile 5G available in a dozen markets by year end with more growth on tap for 2019. Both carriers are using millimeter wave spectrum for their 5G rollouts.

“Regarding the competition,” Fuetsch said, “I can’t really comment on their strategy but they really seem to be fixated on fixed. It really appears to be this sort of tale of two cities. At AT&T we’re all about 5G mobile, standards-based. They seem to be fixated on 5G fixed and non-standards-based. We think that’s pretty significant and a differentiator on a couple of notes.” He outlined how AT&T’s launch device, a mobile hot spot described as a puck, will seamlessly connect to 5G where it’s available and LTE everywhere else. “It will seamlessly cross over. This is really why we call it mobile.”

In response to questions regarding AT&T’s view on fixed 5G, David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment, said, “We have certainly tested fixed 5G…and will continue to test it. We just think the biggest opportunity is for mobile. We intend to be a leader in mobile 5G and that’s where we’re starting.”

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