AT&T announced a new project it has been experimenting with. Project AirGig is a new type of wireless infrastructure which is low-cost and is installed onto an infrastructure thats existed for decades: power lines.
AirGig essentially piggybacks onto existing power lines and is able to relay a connection using millimeter wave (mmWave) signals capable of multi-gigabit speeds to be used as public Wi-Fi access points, home broadband connections, and could be deployed for existing 4G LTE bands and future 5G technologies. AT&T says initial tests showed much promise and it plans to begin field testing in 2017.
There are more than 100 patents incorporated into the technology that supports Air Gig. Low cost antennas made of plastic were also developed to keep deployment costs low, that, in turn, would hopefully mean a lower cost to the subscriber as well.
The technology could even be used in collaboration with utility companies, providing potential smart-grid applications which can pinpoint problems in a specific segment of a power line, or it could be applied to support utility companies meters and usage control systems.
This kind of technology can also be used as a last-mile solution for home-broadband access which would allow AT&Ts U-Verse to compete better with cable companies as it currently caps off at (theoretical) 24Mbps download speeds with faster speeds available only in more limited areas than the DSL connection.