Vertically-focused 5G strategy includes retail, manufacturing, healthcare and finance

Right now commercial 5G services, inherently limited to device availability—although that will change throughout 2019, reach a very limited number of consumers and businesses. But as 5G scales out, it is being billed as the connectivity fabric that will enable significant digital transformation for a wide range of businesses.

This week AT&T Business laid out the three “pillars” of its 5G strategy: mobile, fixed wireless and edge computing. In December the operator launched a limited mobile 5G service in parts of 12 markets that’s supported by a mobile router and offered to “select businesses and consumers” through a free initial offer that includes the device plus 5G data, and that arrangement will expand to greater commercial availability in the spring.

In a statement, AT&T Business CMO Mo Katibeh said 5G “will help businesses fundamentally change for the better. It will open up opportunities to increase revenue, reduce operational costs, and ultimately create amazing new experiences for employees and customers.”

For mobile, AT&T described the 3GPP 5G New Radio standard as an umbrella or sorts that will allow for “seamless transitions” between 5G, LTE and Wi-Fi. On fixed wireless, which is the basis for Verizon’s 5G Home service, the operator highlighted its role in quickly deploying service and providing a secondary connection to ensure reliability. The company is also selling a multi-access edge computing service for 5G or LTE that gives users access to compute power in support of things like big data analytics, machine learning, etc…An early MEC deal is with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Rush System for Health SVP and CIO Shafiq Rab said MEC is key to delivering on telehealth and medical robotics. “Ultimately, it’s about creating better outcomes for our patients,” he said in a statement. “5G combined with MEC will give us the foundation to provide patients better service, and increase the quality of care we provide.”

Other focus areas called out by AT&T Business are manufacturing, retail and finance. To the manufacturing point, the operator is working with Samsung to kit out Samsung’s Austin, Texas, semiconductor fabrication facility to prove out the use case through the combo of AT&T’s network and Samsung’s infrastructure.

That collaboration was announced last year at the AT&T Business Summit. At the time, AT&T Business CEO Thaddeus Arroyo said, “We plan to create America’s first manufacturing-focused 5G innovation center where we’re going to deliver real 5G…This is a manufacturing facility that’s one of the most advanced semiconductor fabrication facilities in the world.”


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