AT&T’s Project AirGig Aims for Fast, Cheap, Wireless Internet

AT&T debuted Project AirGig, intended to one day provide low-cost, multi-gigabit wireless Internet speeds via power lines. The benefits, says AT&T, is that it will be easy to deploy and deliver super-fast wireless connectivity to the home or any handheld wireless device, relying on license-free spectrum. The company is, however, still in what it is calling its “experimentation phase,” with the first field trials scheduled to roll out in 2017. AT&T already has more than 100 patents/patent applications related to the project.

AT&T chief strategy officer/group president, technology and operations John Donovan states in a company release that the company is looking for “the right global location to trial this new technology next year.”

Worldwide_Global_Internet_Connected

“Project AirGig has tremendous potential to transform Internet access globally — well beyond our current broadband footprint and not just in the United States,” he said. “The results we’ve seen from our outdoor labs testing have been encouraging, especially as you think about where we’re heading in a 5G world.”

Engadget reports that, “more specifically, AT&T plans to mount hundreds of tiny radio stations atop telephone poles to bring high-speed Internet to customers without laying down new cable.” The technology works, not by sending signals over those lines but rather by regenerating “millimeter wave signals from station to station.” Among AT&T’s Project AirGig-related inventions are patent-pending “low-cost plastic antennas and devices” to handle the millimeter wave signals.

The low cost of hardware and deployment not only means that it’s “a potential way to bring high-speed connections to new areas without laying down new cable,” but that “the new system could be deployed faster.”

Current experiments focus on “multiple ways to send a modulated radio signal around or near medium-voltage power lines,” with “no direct electrical connection to the power line required.” Donovan notes that Project AirGig can provide “multi-gigabit speeds in urban, rural and underserved parts of the world,” as well as provide “last-mile access without any new fiber-to-the-home and it is flexible enough to be configured with small cells or distributed antenna systems.”

He also reports the company is using “more than 1 million miles of AT&T fiber network to deliver faster wired and wireless speeds to more locations … tying it all together with a software-centric approach built for the future.”