AT&T says DIRECTV Now is testing a new 5G technology in Austin, Texas that the telco hopes could ultimately lead to faster delivery of its live streaming service across the nation.

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Like its Net TV rivals, such as Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, DIRECTV Now has been plagued with technical snafus from its debut on November 30, in part because of the relatively limited technology that now makes live streaming possible.

But AT&T says the 5G trial now underway in Austin will deliver streams at speeds up to 1 Gbps using mmWave technology.  At those speeds, picture buffering and lagging could be reduced significantly.

“While 5G standards are still being finalized, we’re laying the foundation for faster wireless speeds today in Austin with 5G Evolution. This is a major step on our journey to deliver state-of-the-art 5G wireless speeds as early as late 2018,” AT&T said today in a press release.

With video increasingly dominating web traffic, the industry is seeking an improved technology to deliver it more reliably, and at a faster speed.  Video requires more bandwidth than the delivery of basic web sites and other non-video platforms.

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“Data traffic on the AT&T mobile network has grown more than 250,000% since 2007. Video now makes up over half of our mobile data traffic. In fact, our video traffic grew over 75% and smartphones drove almost 75% of our data traffic in 2016,” AT&T stated today.

DIRECTV Now conducted a trial with 5G technology in Austin in 2016 as well.

— Phillip Swann