AT&T hopes to kickstart 5G innovation with the launch of a lab in Plano, Texas, where the carrier will explore and test 5G applications to bring to market more quickly.

Helping AT&T in the endeavor are leading equipment vendors and AT&T 5G suppliers Ericsson and Nokia, which signed on as studio sponsors.

The studio is outfitted with AT&T 5G connectivity, using its millimeter wave and sub-6 GHz spectrum. It also boasts standalone 5G core network and edge capabilities, along with network KPIs to enable creation, testing and validation of new 5G experiences.  

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But that can’t be done in a vacuum, said AT&T VP of 5G Product and Innovation Jay Cary in a video unveiling the lab.

“To really bring to life the unforeseen possibilities of 5G, we’ve partnered with Ericsson and Nokia who are helping us build out the technology and really the environment we need to be able to deliver those end-to-end consumer experiences that are really going to wow you and me when we see them on our phones,” Cary said.

For example, the video showcased a live interactive music performance with Ericsson featuring Axel Mansoor, musician and Clubhouse darling, that leveraged augmented reality (AR).

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The aim is to help bring products to market faster, providing a space where customers can explore and try out tech using advanced network capabilities.

One focus of study for the studio is sports and entertainment experiences. That includes holographic communications, which AT&T already dabbled in with HoloVision and the NBA last year using 5G.  Another is drone delivery based off recent work with Microsoft and drone company EVA, equipped with 5G low-latency and cloud services such as Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

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Edge compute, both on-prem and network edge, are part of the picture at the studio.

And although it’s focused on 5G, the carrier said it won’t ignore other technologies like Wi-Fi 6 and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), with both set to factor into the initiative.

Plano is also the site of an AT&T Foundry innovation center that opened in 2018. It focused on co-creation with enterprise customers to develop solutions in vertical industries like manufacturing, retail, finance, healthcare and the public sector. It wasn’t clear if the 5G Innovation Studio is part of the same facility, or a new and independent lab. An AT&T spokesperson wasn’t immediately available to answer questions from Fierce.  

AT&T isn’t the only one setting up dedicated lab or studio space. Verizon has a handful of 5G labs or ‘incubators’ across the country each focused on new 5G-powered use cases for different segments. T-Mobile, meanwhile, has its 5G-focused startup Accelerator program and co-founded the 5G Open Innovation Lab.

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