5G connectivity is coming, which is good news for anyone who’s ever wanted to stream multiple things in 4K while sitting in a treehouse. All the major mobile companies are currently jockeying for position as to who gets to post “First!” in the comments section, and AT&T just put the stakes up.
AT&T spent $1.25 billion to acquire Straight Path Communications, a company that holds significant wireless spectrum that could be used for 5G. AT&T made the deal using all stock, meaning it hasn’t had to deplete cash reserves, but don’t let that fool you: this is a significant investment in wireless technology for the company.
The spectrum Straight Path holds is millimeter wave-band, which is widely viewed as being critical for delivering gigabit speeds for 5G. For the wireless carriers, 5G opens up the potential to replace cable companies as the major supplier of home internet. While digging up streets to install fiber lines is expensive, time-consuming, and lends itself to regional monopolies, using wireless connections to get internet to the home has major promise.
Google has reportedly already begun testing wireless transmission in place of its Google Fiber home internet service, and it’s definitely on everyone’s mind. 5G would undoubtedly be a big upgrade over 4G for wireless devices, and that’s where the initial focus will be. But if carriers can build out networks that are big and stable enough, it’s a lot more than just wireless plans that will be on the line.