AT&T Inc (t) has started trials in Georgia state and a non-U.S. location to deliver high-speed internet over power lines, the number two wireless carrier said on Wednesday, marking its latest push to offer faster broadband service to more customers.
AT&T aims to eventually deliver speeds faster than the 1 gigabit per second consumers can currently get through fiber internet service using high-frequency airwaves that travel along power lines. While the Georgia trial is in a rural area, the service could potentially be deployed in suburbs and cities, the company said in a statement.
“We think this product is eventually one that could actually serve anywhere near a power line,” said Marachel Knight, AT&T’s senior vice president of wireless network architecture and design, in an interview. She added that AT&T chose an international trial location in part because the market opportunity extends beyond the United States.
AT&T said it had no timeline for commercial deployment and that it would look to expand trials as it develops the technology.
“Potentially, it can be a really big deal,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics. “You need the power company to play ball with you. That’s the downside.”
AT&T and Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, have also been testing 5G internet services in which the last leg of the connection is delivered via a radio signal to homes using high-frequency airwaves known as millimeter wave spectrum.
Verizon said in November it would launch the faster broadband service in three to five U.S. markets in 2018.