How AT&T teams made first C-band 5G field test calls

AT&T has become the first operator to complete field test calls over C-band 5G spectrum using a Mobile Test Platform in Plano, Texas and Detroit, Michigan.
AT&T mmWave 5G+ networkBefore the C-band auction ended in March, AT&T’s teams were already planning how to put this new spectrum to the test.

“Being the first to make a call on mmWave was an important event in 5G development in 2018,” said Paritosh Rai, who oversees AT&T’s 5G Project Management Office.

Recently, AT&T announced plans to cover 200 million people with 5G over C-band spectrum by the end of 2023 – well outpacing Verizon’s announced C-band deployment.

“C-band or spectrum will help enable our 5G network to reach its full potential – giving our customers the faster and increased connectivity they want,” said Tony Seyfried – AT&T Tech Vendor Manager, who was leading the team in Detroit on its quest to place the first C-band field test call.

AT&T expects to cover 200 million people with 5G over C-band spectrum by the end of 2023. AT&T acquired 80 MHz of C-band spectrum during the most recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction – the first batch of which will officially become available to AT&T later this year.

“We all knew we’d be doing field tests soon and quickly started the leg work in these markets to get sites, software, spectrum and devices ready to test,” said Rai. “Calls are tested in a lab first to work out all the kinks, then that testing is replicated in the field.”

From the lab to the field, testing using a Mobile Test Platform is a crucial component to not only making sure we can communicate over new spectrum but making sure our customers have the best possible network experience possible. But it all starts with those first words.

While the Radio Access Network (RAN) teams designed how the testing would go, the Construction & Engineering (C&E) teams worked on getting potential sites ready, necessary approvals were secured and the 5G Project Management Office worked on clearing the spectrum for the test.