AT&T Expands Project AirGig Trials
By AT&T Team
February 1, 2017
is in advanced discussions with power companies and others to trial
Project AirGig in at least two locations by this fall. One location will
be in the United States with others to be determined in the coming
AT&T has experimented with this unique, patented broadband-over-power
lines (BPL) technology at our outdoor facility for some time with
positive results. These results led to our development of new
innovations like the Radio Distributed Antenna System (RDAS).
“We are looking forward to begin testing the possibilities of AT&T Labs’
invention for customers and utility companies,” said Andre Fuetsch,
president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer. “AT&T is focused on
delivering a gigabit-per-second speed everywhere we can with our wired
and wireless technologies. Project AirGig represents a key invention in
our 5G Evolution approach. AT&T Labs is ‘writing the textbook’ for a new
technology approach that has the potential to deliver benefits to
utility companies and bring this multi-gigabit, low-cost internet
connectivity anywhere there are power lines – big urban market, small
rural town, globally.”
In the last several years, we’ve seen staggering usage growth on our
wireless network – data has increased about 250,000% since 2007, and the
majority of that traffic is video. This trend is not going to stop, with
the rise of 4K mobile video streaming, augmented and virtual reality,
smart homes and cities, autonomous vehicles and more. And we’re working
to provide connectivity everywhere, so our customers can enjoy these
technologies seamlessly, wherever they are.
Early this year, we provided an outlook on our 5G Evolution and other
initiatives to provide ultra-fast Internet access. We’re working to
develop and enhance several access technologies.
Project AirGig Progress
More than 10 years ago, some AT&T Labs engineers worked on earlier
experiments to deliver BPL. Back then, broadband merely meant megabit
speeds. The technology worked well, but couldn’t keep up with the move
to higher speeds.
So, our engineers shifted their focus from BPL to millimeter wave (mmWave)
technology, and became curious about combining mmWave and powerlines. No
one in the industry had connected these technologies together yet.
of the first experiments involved transmitting data signals using
funnels from a local auto parts store covered with aluminum foil, placed
next to unenergized power cables. These tests produced unexpected
positive results, creating the foundation of Project AirGig’s
development – transporting mmWaves over powerlines.
Now, we have more than 200 patents and patent applications for Project
AirGig. AT&T Labs engineers and scientists invented low-cost plastic
antennas, a Radio Distributed Antenna System (RDAS), mmWave surface wave
launchers and inductive power devices. The RDAS will reconstruct signals
for multi-gigabit mobile and fixed deployments. A typical DAS carries
cellular signals throughout buildings and stadiums, using fiber and/or
coaxial cables to transmit analog signals.
With the RDAS, we found a system design to effectively deliver not just
broadband, but also mobile traffic. The mmWave surface wave launchers
and inductive power devices can power themselves without a direct
electrical connection. These devices create a multi-gigabit signal that
travels along or near the wire – not through it. This signal means
connected experiences become an everyday reality for people – regardless