AT&T is in a cutthroat competition with Verizon to be the first carrier to offer 5G. While you may think Verizon already claimed that title, it actually launched a pre-standard 5G network that AT&T (and others) claim is not “real 5G.”
So can AT&T be the first to make its mark with 5G? Here’s everything you need to know about the carriers 5G rollout.
To offer the fastest speeds with the lowest latency, AT&T will initially deploy its 5G network on a millimeter wave spectrum (mmWave). While mmWave can offer the fastest 5G service, it isn’t the most reliable.
High-band spectrum like mmWave doesn’t cover a large area and has relatively poor penetration. Over the next several years, AT&T will build out its 5G network around the country with small cells, and deploy service on more hearty spectrum bands. Until the rollout is complete, the service will piggyback off its robust LTE network.
Although we’re not likely to see any 5G smartphones on the market for several months, AT&T has a different deployment strategy. It plans rollout 12 cities by the end of 2018 using a 5G hotspot. Eight more cities will get 5G in early 2019 as AT&T continues its nationwide rollout. Here are all the cities confirmed so far.
AT&T plans to end the year with a splash, launching 5G in 12 cities across the U.S. Those cities are, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, San Antonio, and Waco.
The carrier plans to follow up on its 12-city rollout in early 2019 by adding seven more cities to the mix. Those cities are, Orlando, Las Vegas, Nashville, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.
Although AT&T will have 5G service in cities around the country by early 2019, it’s worth noting the service will likely be spotty. Expect to see the initial rollout in heavily trafficked areas like city centers, airports, and stadiums at first.
In terms of hardware, AT&T appear to have an aggressive release schedule ahead for 2019. So far, the carrier is on track to release three pieces of hardware for 2019, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see more announcements in the coming months.
In December, the carrier announced two 5G-capable smartphones for 2019. A Samsung-branded 5G smartphone operating on AT&Ts mmWave is will be released in the spring of 2019. Toward the end of 2019, AT&T will release another Samsung 5G smartphone with multi-band support.
Earlier this year AT&T announced the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot for its initial 5G rollout. Although AT&T has not confirmed any additional pucks, it’s likely we’ll see a handful throughout 2019.
Since 2019 will likely be a busy year for 5G hardware, you’ll want to check back often to see if you’re favorite smartphone manufacturer has confirmed hardware compatible with your carrier. We created a special page with all the currently confirmed 5G smartphones to help you out.
Along with Verizon, AT&T was supposed to be one of the first carriers to roll out fixed 5G. In late 2018, however, it looks like things have changed. The carrier announced it would initially deploy fixed LTE on the Citizens Band Radio Spectrum (CBRS) in 2019, and follow migrate to 5G coverage at some point in the future.
AT&T has not announced any hardware for its fixed broadband service.