Wireless carrier AT&T has announced plans to test a new technology that could deliver multi-gigabit wireless Internet speeds to almost anywhere in the world connected to an electricity grid. Dubbed ?EU?Project AirGig,” the technology would rely on existing electrical infrastructure to help transmit a wireless signal, with just the addition of a cheap plastic antenna.
“Project AirGig has tremendous potential to transform Internet access globally — well beyond our current broadband footprint and not just in the United States,” said John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president, Technology and Operations, AT&T, in a statement. “The results we’ve seen from our outdoor labs testing have been encouraging, especially as you think about where we’re heading in a 5G world.?EU?
Although AT&T has called Project AirGig revolutionary, people have been kicking around a similar idea, known as broadband over power lines (BPL), for more than a decade. BPL involves the transmission of high-speed digital signals over electrical wires at electromagnetic frequencies higher than those being used in power transmission.
However, this isn?EU?t that, according to AT&T. At least, not exactly. While the traditional BPL concept relies on transmitting data through the wires, AT&T described the AirGig technology as millimeter wavelength radio signals in the 30 GHz to 300 GHz spectrum that travel ?EU?around or near the lines,” rather than through them.
Though the waves are guided by the outer surface and propagate along them, they wouldn?EU?t travel directly through them the way that signals travel through coaxial or fiber optic cables. Because the data is being carried via a wireless radio wave guided by the power lines rather than a wired signal, mobile devices will be able to connect directly to the wireless signal as long as they are within the area of coverage provided by the power lines.