5G Streaming

AT&T recently said that by the first half of the year, they would give their subscribers in Austin a chance to stream DirecTV Now on the much fast 5G network. This is the early trial of a potential game changer technology, said chief strategy officer John Donovan at the annual CES confab.

The test from AT&T will be a simultaneous test of net neutrality and wireless broadband. It is reported that the trial users in Austin, TX will be given chance to stream DirecTV Now services on different equipments over fixed 5G connections at varying sites. AT&T said in a press release that the goal is to see how “wireless millimeter wave technology” can handle video traffic. In addition to DirecTV Now service, AT&T will also offer other “next-generation entertainment services” through 5G.

AT&T has already performed 5G tests in Austin with partners like Ericsson and Intel, but it is reported that the streaming test of DirecTV Now will push AT&T harder. The technology, also called as “mmWave” is said to deliver speeds of 1Gbps theoretically. Reports say that AT&T is much eager to promote the 5G technology that could potentially make wireless broadband as robust a source for video as the wired broadband services offered by cable.

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AT&T is also hoping to persuade the Department of Justice’s antitrust officials that the 5G technology would make them more effective competitor to cable TV providers and may help them ease concerns that the DOJ antitrust officials have about their $85 billion plan to buy Time Warner.

“We’re not waiting until the final standards are set to lay the foundation for our evolution to 5G,” Donovan told at the Citi Global Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference taking place at CES. “We’re executing now. Data usage on the mobile network of AT&T has increased about 250,000% since 2007, and the majority of that traffic is video.”

Donovan also sees 5G as a benefit to many other products like 4K video, Internet of Things, driverless car, and augmented and virtual reality, which are being showcased at CES. He didn’t offer much details about the DirecTV Now service, but told that AT&T would provide the details in Q4 earnings report. However, he said that AT&T is “very pleased with the way the network has performed” to deliver the video service, and was “not at all surprised by some of the consumption characteristics.”