AT&T’s AirGig Announcement: Why Now?

Ed Gubbins - Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure
Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • AT&T wasn’t very candid in explaining how its latest lab project works, a twist on broadband over powerline.
  • Multiple forces might have given the operator reason to announce AirGig now, before it could say much.

AT&T’s announcement last week of a new technology dubbed AirGig was striking for a few reasons. One was the novelty of the technology itself, which enigmatically promised to transmit wireless signals around power lines rather than through them, putting a new spin on old broadband-over-powerline tech concepts and posing the possibility of self-backhauling mesh networks deployed along the power grid that could deliver 4G and 5G services to the home.

Another thing that was striking about AT&T’s announcement of AirGig was just how little about it the company was at liberty to discuss. For starters, how does the technology work, exactly? AT&T declined to elaborate much. How far could these networks (which use millimeter waves without necessarily being restricted to them and provide both access and backhaul) extend from a wireline backhaul source? It wouldn’t say. How would they be powered if, as AT&T offered, they wouldn’t need to physically connect to the power grid? Inductive (wireless) power transmission is one approach, the company said, but left it at that.

So, why announce a technology that is still being developed if you can’t say much about it? Continue reading “AT&T’s AirGig Announcement: Why Now?”