AT&T reveals transitioning to 5G standalone (SA)

AT&T is gradually transitioning from 5G non-standalone (NSA) to 5G standalone (SA) to take its 5G service to the next level.
AT&T Store SnellvilleAT&T’s engineers are designing, building, testing, and refining network to enhance the capabilities of 5G connection and enable developers to create the next generation of apps and services.

At December 31, 2022, AT&’s network covered more than 285 million people with 5G technology in the United States and North America. AT&T’s capital expenditure touched $19.6 billion in 2022 mainly focusing on mobile network.

“This critical phase allows us to use a dedicated 5G core in SA instead of relying on a 4G LTE core in NSA. The 5G SA unlocks features such as faster upload speeds, ultra-low latency, ultra-high reliability, and edge functions, which are essential for business opportunities like the next generation of connected cars,” Jason Sikes, AVP Device Architecture at AT&T, said in a blog post.

AT&T aims to deploy Standalone 5G when the ecosystem is ready.

AT&T said the demand for uplink capacity and speed is increasing by about 30 percent a year in mobility network. Recently, AT&T completed the first 5G SA Uplink 2-carrier aggregation data call in the U.S, which combines different frequency bands to give more bandwidth and capacity.

AT&T conducted the test in its labs with Nokia’s 5G AirScale portfolio and MediaTek’s 5G M80 mobile test platform.

AT&T aggregated low-band n5 and mid-band n77 spectrum. Compared to low-band n5 alone, AT&T saw a 100 percent increase in uplink throughput by aggregating low-band n5 with 40MHz of mid-band n77. AT&T achieved a 250 percent increase aggregating 100MHz of n77.

AT&T achieved upload speeds of over 70 Mbps on n5 with 40MHz of n77 and over 120 Mbps on n5 with 100MHz of n77 by aggregating low-band n5 with mid-band n77.

In addition to carrier aggregation, AT&T is managing surging uplink demand by using a two-layer uplink MIMO on time division duplex (TDD) in the mid-band n77, which improves signal quality, data rates, and cell capacity.

AT&T has completed a 5G SA four component carrier downlink call by combining two FDD carriers and two TDD carriers to enhance both downlink and uplink carrier aggregation capabilities.

These capabilities allow AT&T devices to aggregate mid-band n77 in the C-Band and 3.45GHz spectrum ranges. Compared with low band and mmWave spectrum, mid-band n77 provides a good balance between coverage and speed. This follows the 5G SA three component carrier downlink feature that AT&T introduced last year to 2022 AT&T Flagship devices which combines one frequency division duplex (FDD) carrier and two TDD carriers.

AT&T also plans to enable 5G New Radio Dual Connectivity (NR-DC), which will allow to aggregate low and mid-band spectrum with high-band mmWave spectrum on 5G SA. This technology will provide high-speed mobile broadband for both downlink and uplink in stadiums, airports, and other high-density venues.

As the 5G SA ecosystem rapidly evolves, AT&T is introducing new technologies and capabilities such as specialized network services, non-terrestrial network solutions, and Reduced capability 5G (RedCap) for a new generation of 5G capable wearables, industrial IoT, wireless sensors, and other small form factor consumer devices.