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5G is here from AT&T, for one business customer

Standards for 5G technology are still in development, but AT&T offers one business customer access to the next-gen network as part of a limited trial.

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Official protocols for 5G networks aren't expected to be finalized until 2020.

KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images

The cellular network of the future is here, for one business customer.

AT&T said Monday it's offering a trial run of 5G service for a business customer, marking the first time the next-generation cellular network will be used in trials that involve a real customer. Intel will be the customer, using the 5G service in its Austin, Texas offices. The development marks another milestone in a heated race to bring 5G to regular users, even though the official protocols for the new network aren't expected to be finalized until 2020.

"This trial is a significant step forward," said said Rick Hubbard, senior vice president of networking product management at AT&T, in a statement. "We're leaving the lab and heading into the field with a real-world business customer."

AT&T's main competition in pushing 5G forward is Verizon, which announced field trials of 5G in June and said in July it had developed specifications with its vendor partners for how the technology will utilize radio waves and infrastructure

Monday's announcement from AT&T comes on the heels of the company's plan to offer home internet service based on 5G in Austin as well as Middletown, New Jersey. Those trials haven't begun yet.

AT&T's business customer will be testing out 5G with regular internet access, 4K video streaming, live videoconferencing and phone service carried over the internet.

Updated at 12:19 p.m. PT to indicate that AT&T's business customer is Intel.