The next generation of mobile communications technology, encompassing everything from chipsets to devices themselves, data rates and higher system capacity, will certainly be reshaped by the potential of 5G connectivity. Which is why mobile technology giants Samsung and AT&T have teamed up to launch a project built around a deep dive into all things 5G.

AT&T, plus Samsung Electronics America and Samsung Austin Semiconductor, announced today they’re launching the first manufacturing-focused 5G testbed in Austin, Texas, which the companies are describing as an “Innovation Zone.” It’s meant, among other things, to “help provide crucial insight into how smart manufacturing can evolve and strengthen the industry at large,” the companies explained.

The goal of the testbed, which sits within Samsung Austin Semiconductor itself, is to offer up tangible results that lead to a better understanding of how 5G can impact manufacturing and then use those results to support the future of smart factories. Samsung Austin Semiconductor, of course, is one of the most advanced semiconductor fabrication facilities in the world, so no surprise the new “Innovation Zone” will rely on Samsung’s 5G equipment as well as AT&T’s 5G wireless technology.

“We’re testing the real-world impact 5G will have on the manufacturing industry,” AT&T Business Chief Marketing Officer Mo Katibeh explained about the project. “Ultimately, we will use what we learn from this 5G ‘Innovation Zone’ to help create better technology experiences and improvements in SAS’s plant, along with creating a future blueprint for people and businesses across all industries.”

Some of the technologies and use cases the companies say they may explore in the new space include 4K video as a sensor to improve plant security and detection response; Internet of Things sensors to monitor for environmental and equipment conditions; AR and VR for employee training; and enhanced location services for plant safety.

This news follows the recent announcement that AT&T is working to bring 5G connectivity to a dozen cities by the end of the year. The company has also already announced a number of cities it’s bringing 5G to in 2019, with today’s announcement effectively marking another piece of that puzzle snapping into place.

Says Dr. Sang-Pil Sim, president of Samsung Austin Semiconductor, the companies’ collaboration will help them test how a 5G network can improve mobility, performance and efficiencies “within our plant.” Which is of course one step on the road toward more widespread commercialization and usage of 5G technology.

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