AT&T speed test for its new fiber connection

AT&T is working on 20 Gigabit fiber to homes, which could launch next year

What is happening

AT&T is working on much faster fiber connections.

why is it important

The upgraded service could allow home internet and small businesses to be able to access the internet at 20 Gbps as early as 2023 or 2024.

AT&T already offers 1 gigabit, 2 gigabit and 5 gigabit home internet options. While those speeds are more than enough for almost anyone today, the company is working on something that could quickly put those services in the background. AT&T revealed to CNET that it is working on upgrades to its fiber network that would enable home internet download and upload speeds of 20 Gbps.

AT&T is testing the technology at its Austin labs today, with Eddy Barker, assistant vice president of mobility and access architecture at AT&T, expecting the upgrade to be ready to go. rolling out in late 2023 or in 2024. By adding this capacity to its network, he notes that AT&T could offer not just 20 Gbps connections, but additional tiers of high throughput, including 10 Gbps and 15 Gbps.

Faster internet access has been an area of ​​focus for a number of businesses in recent years, particularly with the rise of 5G for mobile connections and increased demand for stronger broadband connections due to the pandemic. In January, AT&T announced that it was expanding its fiber offering to include fiber multigig home broadband options in 70 marketsfurther expanding this footprint in March to 30 other metropolitan areas.

“We’re not really releasing when we’re going to offer this service yet,” Barker says, “but I think we’re trying to demonstrate what he’s capable of and how that investment is sustainable and what his abilities are to continue to be very competitive. The company says its existing fiber optic cables to homes and businesses can already support the faster speeds, it just needs “minimal infrastructure upgrades at our central offices and at our customers” .

“From an investment perspective, you have to think ahead to make sure the architecture (that) you put in place has the legs to be able to upgrade anything with moderate investments as demand grows” , says Gordon Mansfield, vice president of AT&T. mobility and access architecture.

“One thing we certainly know, we know on both the broadband front and the wireless front,” he adds, “If you build it, they’ll consume it.”

In a demo performed between two of its Austin offices, AT&T was able to show download and upload speeds of over 20 Gbps with a latency of 220 microseconds. He used his own self-developed speed test for the demo, as servers from outside companies, including third parties like Ookla’s popular, are not yet properly equipped for this type of connection. .

AT&T speed test for its new fiber connection

A speed test showing AT&T’s new fiber connection.


Barker says AT&T is working with carriers and partners to make sure there are devices and products that can connect and take advantage of those faster speeds. “We kind of have to look at this whole ecosystem when we’re planning productization to make sure it’s ready on time and within the cost structure” before launching a new product like this.

As it’s still a long way from being released, it’s unclear what AT&T might charge for faster speeds. Its 2 Gig connection costs $110 per month (with AutoPay), while its 5 Gig Fiber service costs $180 per month (with AutoPay). Getting a gigabit connection from the company currently costs $80 per month (with AutoPay).

Plan for the future

A number of companies are working on new technologies, including Wi-Fi 7, which should be able to take advantage of faster connections. Qualcomm recently announced new Wi-Fi 7 chips that can enable speeds of up to 33 Gbps, although some of its first consumer chips for the new standard seem to max out at around 5.8 Gbps.

What you’ll need all that speed for, especially on the consumer side, isn’t immediately clear, though AT&T envisions a world where those lightning-fast connections benefit gaming, telehealth, and robotic manufacturing applications. .

For his part, Mansfield sees smart, augmented and virtual reality glasses as a particularly bandwidth-intensive application that could arise in the not-too-distant future.

“If you look at the bandwidth that these glasses are going to require, the first silicon that’s going to go into these glasses is going to be more focused on the display itself in the glass,” he says, noting that these devices won’t have of 5G capability built into the glasses and will instead rely on Wi-Fi because “the power required for Wi-Fi is less” than for cellular.

These glasses can connect via Wi-Fi to your phone on the go and then directly to your home Wi-Fi network. “It’s a use case that will generate bandwidth that doesn’t exist today.”

Mansfield says he expects to see these “more acceptable form factor” wearables and goggles next year and well into 2024, noting that “several parties are working on it.”

Will Townsend, vice president and senior networking and security analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, expects the initial appeal of these faster speeds to be with businesses and enterprises, but not counting. that developers find new ways to take advantage of connections once they become available.

“Once you get those testbed speeds into the hands of developers, they’ll discover the next big thing much like what (4G) LTE has done to build ride-hailing apps” like Uber and Lyft.

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