AT&T just revealed a new project that it has been experimenting with. Dubbed as AirGig, this project is a new type of wireless infrastructure that is not only low cost but is deployed onto existing infrastructure that has been around for decades: power lines.
AirGig basically 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 plans to begin field testing in 2017 as the initial testing has returned promising results.
There are more than 100 patents incorporated into the technology that supports Air Gig. Low cost antennas made of plastic were developed to keep deployment costs lesser as it would hopefully mean a cheaper cost to the subscriber as well.
The technology can also be used in collaboration with power 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 power 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 make AirGig kind of a wireless alternative to Fiber Optics which will eliminate the need of laying fiber optical cable underground till the subscriber’s premises. Not just that, it could bring internet access to such remote areas where electricity is currently available but internet infrastructure does not exist. The possibilities are truly vast and we hope to see this technology implemented on a standard scale in due time.