AT&T’s ‘5G Evolution’ is a step on the true 5G path, but there is a ways to go

att introduces 5g evolution at amp t
Susan Montgomery/123RF
The race to 5G has officially kicked off — well, depending on what your definition of 5G is. On Tuesday, AT&T announced it has switched on its 5G Evolution service in Austin, Texas, and Samsung Galaxy S8 users can start experiencing the improved service right now.

AT&T claims its 5G Evolution spec is twice as fast as its current 4G LTE network, which OpenSignal rated at about 14Mbps on average in February. The Galaxy S8 series can take advantage because it uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset, which supports data transfers at up to gigabit speed.

However, calling the service 5G is a bit misleading. The 5G standard has not been finalized yet and, while AT&T claims this Evolution network will lay the foundation for its future infrastructure, the technology isn’t necessarily cutting edge anymore. According to AT&T, 5G Evolution utilizes carrier aggregation, 4×4 Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) and 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) to deliver faster data speeds — the same enhancements T-Mobile brought to its existing LTE network all the way back in September.

In other words, what AT&T is calling 5G Evolution is indeed an upgrade over existing LTE, but it is not even close to what true 5G is purported to offer when it arrives a few years from now. While much will likely change between now and then as to what officially constitutes 5G, one feature it will certainly bring is data speeds of at least 1Gbps. What AT&T is introducing now cannot even manage half that.

Again, it is still faster, but it is not 5G. In fact, it is a lot like how AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint were marketing technologies like HSPA+ and WiMax — iterations upon the 3G standard — as 4G, well before LTE was ever introduced. Never mind the fact that LTE still does not reach the initial agreed-upon standard for 4G.

While AT&T customers in Austin will be the first to receive 5G Evolution, the carrier says it expects to roll the service out to cities including Indianapolis, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Nashville, Tennessee next. By then, it is possible another phone featuring the Snapdragon 835, or an even more powerful system-on-chip with support for faster data speeds, will also launch to take advantage of AT&T’s improvements.

Mobile

5G phones make a lot of promises. Here’s what to really expect

There has been a lot of marketing copy expounding the potential benefits of 5G networks, but a lot less on the practical implications of 5G smartphones. There's a reason for that.
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!
Mobile

Samsung rumored to mark 10 years of the Galaxy S line with a 5G model

Samsung is rumored to launch a 5G version of the Galaxy S10, called the Galaxy S10 X. The phone may be larger than the standard Galaxy S10 devices, and feature a very impressive specification sheet.
Mobile

AT&T jumps the gun with deliberately misleading 5GE launch

As excitement about 5G networks continues to build, AT&T jumps the gun with a ridiculous and deliberate attempt to deceive the public with 5G Evolution – a speed bump that’s based on improvements to 4G tech.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.
Wearables

Lack of regulation means wearables aren’t held accountable for health claims

As fitness trackers become more like health monitors, some physicians are concerned they can lead to over-diagnosis of non-existent problems. It’s already happening with wearable baby monitors.
Business

Google is buying mysterious smartwatch tech from The Fossil Group for $40 million

Google is about to step up its smartwatch game. The company has agreed to buy an unnamed smartwatch technology from The Fossil Group for a hefty $40 million. Considering the acquisition, it's clear Google is serious about smartwatches.
Mobile

Here’s how to take a screenshot on an iPad, step by step

The ability to capture screenshots may not be the iPad's most glamorous feature, but it's one of its most useful. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to take a screenshot on an iPad, whether it's an iPad Pro from 2018 or an older iPad model.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.
Social Media

Here’s how to save someone’s Instagram Story to your phone

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile support ending: Switch to iOS or Android, Microsoft says

A Microsoft support page detailed the company's plans to end support for Windows 10 Mobile in less than a year. Users with devices powered by the platform are suggested to switch to iOS or Android devices.