As the 5G race heats up in the U.S., AT&T just became the first carrier to launch Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) in some markets.
Dynamic Spectrum Sharing is a technology that allows operators to operate both 4G LTE and 5G NR simultaneously on the same network band. That means carriers don’t have to rush to erect new 5G NR cell sites or dedicate a chunk of the spectrum for either 4G or 5G. DSS provides a practical and cost-effective way for carriers to bring 5G to the masses without spending millions of dollars in building new infrastructure, which will ease the transition for carriers from non-standalone 5G networks (NSA) to standalone 5G (SA).
Unlike T-Mobile, AT&T doesn’t have any surplus mid-band spectrum on which it could expand its 5G network. This is where DSS technology will come handy for AT&T as it will enable the company to serve both 4G LTE and 5G NR users using its existing mid-band airwaves.
In the first phase, AT&T is enabling DSS in parts of North Texas and will be gradually expanding its use to more markets in the coming months. The LG V60 ThinQ 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, and Samsung Galaxy S20 series are among the initial list of devices that will support DSS. AT&T says it will be adding support for more phones later on.
“DSS allows carriers to share the same channel between both 4G and 5G users simultaneously. It turns up 5G without turning off LTE – creating a seamless experience for users, and a graceful spectrum transition for carriers.”
Apart from AT&T, Verizon is also planning to make use of DSS to expand its 5G coverage to more markets. The company hasn’t yet shared a concrete date about when it will make a move, but it did promise it will happen sometime in the second half of 2020.
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