5G is expected to help fully realize the benefits of IoT. With billions of devices expected to be connected to the Internet, wireless networks must evolve drastically and test equipment have to be at the cutting edge of the technology.

The forthcoming 5G technology is going to disrupt not only the communications sector and other industries, but also the test equipment market that serves it. If a number of traditional test and measurement products and solutions categories may be used in the development of 5G, there will be a need for other type of instruments that simply have not been created yet.

Just recently AT&T announced its plans to launch its first “5G Evolution Markets” in the next few months in Austin, Texas, and Indianapolis, and it will build two new 5G test beds that would be deployed this spring at the AT&T Labs in Austin.

The operator announced that it expects its network to offer peak speeds of over 400 Mbps, and as it continues to work on the density of its network and deploy carrier aggregation and LTE-License Assisted Access. By doing so, AT&T expects to enable theoretical peak speeds up to 1 Gbps in selected areas in 2017.

Late in 2016, the operator deployed the industry’s first 5G business customer trial in Austin. The two new test beds are expected to fully support its existing 5G work, as well as trials using a fixed wireless 5G connections and the ability to stream DirecTV Now and access enhanced broadband services to residential and small-to-medium business customers in Austin. AT&T announced the DirecTV Now trial in January 2017.

The AT&T’s test beds would consist of dedicated 5G outdoor and indoor test locations with flexible infrastructure to allow updates as 5G standards develop, according to the operator.

The carrier would work closely with multiple vendors to evaluate advanced 5G technology models for both fixed and mobile solutions, test network infrastructure and devices and explore 5G signal coverage for the 28 GHz, 39 GHz, and sub-6 GHz frequency bands.

A number of test equipment vendors have been investing into 5G research meanwhile. National Instruments, Keysight Technologies, and Rohde & Schwartz are among the leading 5G test equipment companies. The test & measurement industry has a tall order of staying ahead of the technologies and is expected to offer solutions before the new technology is deployed.

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