The number two wireless carrier in the United States, AT&T, has disclosed that customers in a dozen cities will get 5G network services later in the year. According to AT&T the groundwork has already been laid as network upgrades have been carried out in more than 20 cities. Fixed wireless trials have also been conducted in Austin, Texas; South Bend, Indiana, and Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The telecommunications giant has said that it expects 5G to boost its revenue opportunities since faster connections will broaden the customer base. With 5G the development of sophisticated technologies that include driverless cars, 4K video and virtual reality will progress faster.
AT&T did not however offer specific details on which particular cities the 5G network services will initially be rolled out in. The telecommunications giant did not also provide information on the kind of equipment that will be deployed or even the speeds which consumers can expect to enjoy once the service is unveiled.
Though the 5G technology provides an opportunity for wireless carriers to revive growth in an industry that has been slowing, numerous challenges exist. This include huge capital and research expenses that wireless carriers, device manufacturers, chipmakers, software developers will have to foot. It is estimated that approximately $200 billion will be spent on a yearly basis on R&D as well on infrastructure.
Another challenge that exists for 5G is that engineers will be required to come up with ways that will allow the technology to overcome interference causing by rain and trees. And due to the anticipated demand they will also have to develop a signal that is strong enough.
This comes at a time when AT&T is being accused of quietly laying off workers across the United States per the Communication Workers of America (CWA) union representing employees at the telecommunications giant. The job cuts have coincided with AT&T’s announcement of $1,000 bonuses to approximately 200,000 employees following the changes made to the U.S. tax code last month. According to Larry Robbins, the vice president of CWA Local 4900, the bonus and the announcement of additional investments by AT&T were all a publicity stunt.
“We believe there’s more than 4,000 people AT&T has (notified of layoffs) across the country. We believe the $1,000 bonus and the promise of 7,000 new jobs are all a publicity stunt,” said Robbins.
AT&T has however defended the layoffs saying they have been necessitated by a decline in legacy services.