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The evolution of “G”

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3G. 4G. 5G evolution. And of course wireless 5G. Marketing terms swirl about, claims are made and the “G” terms start to blend together after a while, leading CIOs to rightly ask, is there anything to all this hype or will this be yet another letdown?

What is 5G Evolution?

The first question is “what really is 5G Evolution?”  If you talk to staff at AT&T they may say 5G Evolution is as much a concept and foundation as it is a technology. Confusing? You bet.

It is true providers have been accused of playing it fast and loose with marketing terms around what cellular generation they are on. Many CIOs and tech aficionados may remember when AT&T joined T-Mobile referring to HSPA+ as 4G.  Despite perhaps a rocky past, however, they may finally be getting somewhere.

Even though early claims found AT&T’s new network wasn’t any faster than their competitors, PCMag’s 2019 Fastest Mobile Network study showed that AT&T’s 5G Evolution was rated number one, helping wireless move ahead in both speed and reliability.

Say what you will about wireless companies eager use of marketing terms, with 5G Evolution, AT&T may finally be giving companies a viable cellular option to run their business. Their new 50Mbps AT&T Wireless Broadband plans may provide possible insight as what to expect in terms of pricing and plans for true 5G as it rolls out.  

Looking specifically at the technology, at it’s core, it’s powered by LTE Advanced technology along with some LTE-LAA.  In addition to upgrading their backbone and fiber connections to the towers and using LTE-LAA in places the 3 main components from the LTE Advanced driving 5G Evolution include 3-way Carrier Aggregation to add more “lanes” to the highway for the data to travel, 4×4 MIMO doubling the number of antennas for transmission and 256 QAM to make the data transmission more efficient.  Finally, they are utilizing software-defined networking and artificial intelligence to increase their current 4G LTE speeds.

AT&T Wireless Broadband plans aren’t new, but they aren’t well-known either.  Originally available in only 3Mbps, 8Mbps and 12Mbps these are symmetrical unlimited data plans.  As with most unlimited plans today there are soft caps for potential throttling ranging from 50GB-125GB to take into consideration.  One additional notable aspect to the current plans is that they come with 10GB-30GB of AT&T Dynamic Traffic Management which gives priority on AT&T’s network over regular traffic.

At this point, AT&T says they have rolled 5G Evolution out to about 400 markets, but how much of those markets are fully covered at this point is yet to be seen. If you fit the correct criteria, 5G Evolution paired with a 50Mbps AT&T Wireless Broadband plan could be a great solution not just as a failover, but in an Active/Active or Primary capacity.

Chris Moeller is a 5G Wireless Super-Nerd at 3 Tree Tech. If your organization is considering Wireless 5G, SD-WAN, or ironclad cyber security but you’re not sure where to start, reach out to simplify the complex.