While the wireless industry says 5G is coming in 2019, AT&T believes it can launch its service by the end of this year.
Next stop for the 5G hype train: Reality?
The next generation of cellular technology promises a massive boost in speed, more ubiquitous coverage and a responsiveness quick enough to handle remote surgery or autonomous vehicles. It’s supposed to the fuel that drives all. Despite the numerous company announcements and field trials from the wireless industry, we don’t seem to be that much closer to 5G, which is widely expected to roll out in a big way by 2019.
AT&T is hoping to speed up the timetable. The company said on Thursday that it plans to launch its mobile 5G network in a dozen markets in late 2018, along with a single device able to tap into that network. This is different from Verizon’s plan to offerthis year — AT&T’s 5G will look more like the typical cellular service you enjoy now.
If it meets its deadline, AT&T would be the first carrier in the US to launch a mobile 5G service, which has the ability to eventually transform our world through broader, faster and more reliable coverage. The promised speeds are far faster than what most people can get at home (download a season’s worth of «Stranger Things» in seconds), but 5G will also better power the growing family of connected devices in our lives. The launch of 4G gave us Uber, Snapchat and live-streaming video — 5G potentially opens the door even wider to new innovations.
That promise has the carriers engaged in a war of words over 5G. Verizon struck first in 2015 by saying it would the first to launch field trials of 5G, and is on track to deliver a type of fixed 5G service later this year. T-Mobile has mocked both Verizon and AT&T has fueling the hype and potentially disappointing customers. Now AT&T is looking up the timeline again.
AT&T, however, is light on details. Gordon Mansfield, vice president of radio access network and device design for AT&T, said that while there would be a single type of device able to tap into the 5G network, he wouldn’t comment on what the gadget would look like. Whatever the form, the device is expected to use 4G for most of its normal connection, and switch to 5G when the extra speed is appropriate — think a download, live-streaming video or another bandwidth-intensive app.