Samsung partners with AT&T to build a 5G tech lab

5G news

Verizon announced today that its fledgling 5G “network” is live in certain parts Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, but AT&T isn’t sitting out the race to 5G. The carrier is providing 5G connectivity for Samsung’s new “5G innovation zone” within its Texas semiconductor factory. 

There, Samsung will test out its 5G equipment paired with AT&T’s 5G wireless service. But the new lab won’t evaluate consumer applications: instead, it will explore how companies can use 5G to improve their production facilities.

“We’re testing the real-world impact 5G will have on the manufacturing industry,” AT&T Business Chief Marketing Officer Mo Katibeh said in a press release. “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.”

In other words, expect the “5G innovation zone” in the Samsung Austin Semiconductor factory to focus on improving how companies make products, not improving the products themselves.

This could mean using 4K video as a sensor to refine security, IoT sensors to monitor changes in the environment and/or equipment, AR and VR in employee training and enhancing location services, according to Samsung’s press release.

5G is coming in 2019, and companies are preparing

With the first 5G phones coming in 2019, companies are investing more and more in 5G-related tech and networks. Samsung itself has announced several such partnerships and initiatives this year.

Samsung actually supplied tech for Verizon’s nascent 5G network that launched today, but 5G isn’t just a business opportunity for the device giant. Samsung’s plan to invest 25 trillion won (£17 billion, about $22 billion) in 5G tech was seen as a hefty bet on future-proofing its various product families in the face of lower smartphone shipments and sales than expected.

That investment includes plans to hire more AI researchers and expand its semiconductor manufacturing capabilities to cope with demand for AI, 5G, data center and connected car parts. It makes sense that Samsung would want to see how 5G could augment and improve their own production facilities – and possibly market their enterprise 5G solutions to other companies, too.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.