AT&T conducts trials of AirGig powerline technology with Georgia Power, international utility

AT&T Project AirGig broadband over powerline tech (Screenshot: AT&T)
An early trial of AT&T's AirGig broadband over powerline tech. (Image: AT&T)

AT&T has launched two field trials of its AirGig technology, fueling hopes it can gain broader acceptance of its new powerline-based internet service. 

The first trial began earlier this fall with an electricity provider outside the U.S., while the second trial recently kicked off with Georgia Power.

While this trial is located in a rural area of Georgia, AirGig could be deployed in many areas that don’t have any broadband service, whether rural, suburban or urban.

RELATED: AT&T in discussions with electric utilities, others about trialing AirGig powerline technology

Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power, said the company continues to conduct technology research and collaborate with providers like AT&T to unveil new products and services that could resonate with its customer base.

“Expanding access to high speed internet is an important initiative that provides value for our all of our customers and helps us remain a competitive state in which to do business,” Bowers said.

Stopping short of revealing a service roll out plan, AT&T will take what it learns from the trials and continue to develop AirGig. Based on its evaluation of the current trials, AT&T will look at expanding more advanced technology trials in other locations.

AT&T said that while “there’s no timeline yet for commercial deployment, we’re encouraged and excited by what we’ve seen so far.”

The service provider remains bullish about the prospects of AirGig, touting its potential to deliver 1 Gbps speeds via a millimeter wave signal guided by power lines.

Ultimately, AT&T’s goal with AirGig is to accelerate broadband deployments. AirGig networking technology would enable the carrier to install devices to provide broadband which can be clamped onto utility poles by trained electrical workers in minutes. Project AirGig is part of AT&T’s effort to accelerate internet connections to a gig or more through both wired and wireless solutions.

While there have been plenty of broadband over powerline (BPL) failures, AT&T claims AirGig is more efficient than earlier generations of BPL because it runs alongside, rather than within, the power line itself on medium voltage lines.

Following internal trials, AT&T developed new innovations like the Radio Distributed Antenna System (RDAS) to distribute signals from the power lines to homes and businesses.

AirGig uses low-cost plastic antennas, a RDAS, millimeter wave wireless surface wave launchers and inductive power devices. The RDAS, according to AT&T, will reconstruct signals for multigigabit mobile and fixed deployments.