AT&T announced on Wednesday that it plans to rollout its first wave of next generation 5G wireless with the ultra fast network expected to go live in 12 U.S. markets by the of 2018.
“5G will change the way we live, work and enjoy entertainment,” AT&T’s President of Technology & Operations, Melissa Arnoldi, said in a statement. “We’re moving quickly to begin deploying mobile 5G this year and start unlocking the future of connectivity for consumers and businesses. 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.”
While the rules and regulations for America’s 5G wireless spectrum were officially announced just last month, AT&T asserts it was one of the key drivers in accelerating development and rollout of the standard. 3GPP, the official, international wireless standards commission, announced its plans for 5G rollout at that time.
With these new 5G regulations in place, AT&T says device makers like Apple, Samsung and Huawei can officially begin making phones and tablets that boast 5G-capable modems.
Where Is AT&T Bringing 5G?
Unfortunately, according to Engadget, it’s not clear which 12 markets will initially benefit from AT&T’s 5G rollout — and neither is it clear which devices, at launch, will be capable of the blazing-fast speeds.
So while we’ll have to wait on AT&T for further information on the availability front, the good news is that most device makers are already in the process of securing 5G modems.
Apple, for its part, began testing 5G wireless back in May of 2017, following its approved FCC application to test the wireless protocol in and around the Cupertino, California area. Apple was also reported to be working with Intel — its new ‘go-to’ modem supplier amid an ongoing dispute with Qualcomm — to provide it with 5G modems for this year’s iPhone models.
Alongside its announcement of 5G rollout in those soon-to-be-determined markets, AT&T said on Wednesday it will continue building out its strategic “5G Evolution” infrastructure beyond the 23 key markets in which it’s currently available.
5G Evolution utilizes a mixture of existing 4G LTE technologies to create faster wireless speeds for AT&T customers in select markets. And while the speeds fall short of 3GPP’s criteria for full-fledged 5G, AT&T’s 5G Evolution network will nevertheless serve as a foundation for its 5G network.
Advanced 5G Evolution speeds, AT&T confirmed, will also begin rolling out to more markets this year, with “hundreds of metro areas” in the U.S. expected to receive coverage and speed boosts.
With today’s news, AT&T officially joins Sprint and T-Mobile in the race to rollout 5G wireless. Both carriers previously announced plans for a rollout by 2019 and 2020, respectively; while Verizon, who’s been testing 5G since 2016, has yet to formally announce its plans. Select DIRECTV Now subscribers are also expected to begin testing 5G speeds in 2018.
To learn more about next generation 5G wireless, what to expect, and more, be sure to check out our previous coverage outlining the future of 5G.