Back in January, AT&T announced its plans to be the first major network to roll out 5G service to 12 U.S. population centers by the end of the year — starting with two in Texas (Dallas and Waco) and Atlanta. While other locations have been kept under wraps since then, the carrier officially revealed that next up are Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina, and Oklahoma.
In order for users to take advantage of 5G, AT&T also has plans on offering devices built specifically for the network. The carrier plans on adding more 5G-capable mobile devices and smartphones in early 2019 and beyond.
The new network will be based on the industry standard approved by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) just a few weeks ago, which basically encompasses the use of low-frequency spectrum (600Hz and 700Hz), mid-frequency spectrum (3.5GHz), and high-frequency spectrum (50GHz). When used together, these different spectrums should help deliver a much faster experience.
“5G will change the way we live, work, and enjoy entertainment,” Melissa Arnoldi, president of AT&T technology and operations, said in a statement. “With faster speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video, and more.”
Companies have been racing to lay the foundation for a superfast future 5G network in the past few years. Much of that has meant buying newly freed spectrum for use in new networks, like the Gigabit LTE networks that launched recently.
AT&T has been building hype for 5G for some time now. The company has been rolling out its so-called “5G Evolution” networks, which are not actually 5G. Instead, these networks use technology from existing LTE Advanced networks that other carriers have been deploying for some time now. Still, they do offer significantly faster data speeds than AT&T’s existing 4G networks. So far, 23 major markets have seen the rollout of 5G Evolution, including the likes of Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and more.
Apart from offering 5G connectivity to consumers this year, the company says it will also begin testing 5G deployment in businesses to create a more seamless 5G experience.
It’s unclear exactly when each carrier will roll out its 5G offerings. While AT&T says it intends to be the first to introduce the technology, Verizon also plans an initial rollout in 2018. T-Mobile has maintained that it will begin to roll out its 5G technology at some point in 2019.
Updated July 20: AT&T announces three new cities that will get 5G by the end of 2018.