• Amazon and AT&T have partnered on 5G-enabled initiatives, including building network infrastructure for Amazon’s second headquarters and for a smart city project.
  • The partnership will provide a learning lab of sorts for innovation with 5G-enabled applications, such as robotics, AR/VR and autonomous driving.
  • The proximity of these projects to government, academic institutions and private industry in the Arlington, Va., area may also bolster the level of experimentation.

In 2018, Amazon.com was angling to build an East Coast headquarters, and the company scouted several cities, including New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. East Coast metropolitan areas scrambled to win the coveted spot, and, ultimately, the region of Arlington, Virginia, won out.

Fast-forward to 2021, and Amazon has partnered with AT&T and developer JBG Smith to bring technology capabilities to life at its new East Coast headquarters (HQ2).

JBG Smith and AT&T will also join forces to build a new facility in the Arlington area known as National Landing. AT&T will provide the connectivity for mixed-use space comprising offices and residential and retail spaces at the facility.

AT&T will begin deploying network infrastructure in the first half of 2022: a combination of mmWave and sub-6 low-band 5G spectrum. The carrier will use building side-mounts, street-level furniture as well as underground network infrastructure to enable 5G connectivity.

The project signals a green light for 5G implementations at scale. As the COVID-19 virus tore through the country, there was ample question, as the virus subsided, whether municipalities would have the budget and wherewithal to deploy 5G in the aftermath of the pandemic. The project signals that some areas see green lights ahead for 5G connectivity and other smart city initiatives.

The builders envision the site as a test-and-learn innovation lab, of sorts.

“The development of 5G, AI, cloud and edge technologies is helping usher in the next level of how technology can improve lives,” said AT&T Senior Vice President Mo Katibeh in a press release.

“We intend to build a true smart city from the ground up that will allow future innovators to use AT&T’s network to unlock new capabilities through citywide edge solutions that can serve specific business locations and everyday users at home or on the go. This includes enabling immersive virtual and augmented reality and the massive IoT connections that will become a hallmark of National Landing as the most connected city in the country.”

These facilities are proximal to diverse industry, from the government in Washington, D.C., to academic institutions such as Virginia Tech and other private industry. This network of public, private and government organizations will provide a key environment for testing, learning and iteration.

“This collaboration can be a blueprint for how digital infrastructure is deployed,” said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. “I am heartened by the prospects of the innovation this may unlock to advance our country’s competitiveness globally.”


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