Domestic telecom providers like Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint are locked in a heated race to launch their fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks. Though AT&T has taken a slightly bolder initiative in rolling-out its 5G network. Not only has the carrier pledged to roll-out its burgeoning 5G service in key markets as the expansion gets underway, but it’s also committed to developing its 5G network in accordance with the strictest 3GPP industry standards.
Not to be confused with the carrier’s “5G Evolution” (which essentially promises faster 4G LTE speeds in key underserved markets), AT&T laid out its plans for a full-throated nationwide 5G rollout in January, promising that 5G would arrive in a dozen strategic markets by the end of 2018.
- Staying true its word, the carrier in February announced the first three of those markets (Dallas, Texas, Waco, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia) where 5G would go live by this summer, adding that the other nine recipients would be revealed at a later time.
- On Friday, AT&T announced in a statement that Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Raleigh, North Carolina, are the next three markets in line to be graced with ultra high-speed 5G in the coming months.
“AT&T plans to begin introducing mobile 5G to customers in a dozen cities this year, and today we’re adding Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. and Oklahoma City as the next three identified cities for our buildout,” the company said in its official press release, noting that the carrier has resolved to “deliberately launching with a mix of big and mid-sized cities.”
“One competitor recently boasted ‘New York matters more than Waco’ when discussing their future plans,” AT&T said. “We politely disagree – all Americans should have access to next-gen connectivity to avoid a new digital divide.”
It’s still not entirely clear why AT&T is “deliberately launching” in these markets above all others, but it’s possible the carrier is wanting to experiment with various population sizes and geolocation parameters to ensure its 5G service runs smoothly prior to a full-scale nationwide rollout.
In addition to AT&T, several other major carriers announced their 5G deployment and expansion plans so far this year.
T-Mobile, for example, announced back in February that 30 of its biggest markets would be “5G Ready” by the end of 2018.
Sprint, with whom T-Mobile is currently engaged in a controversial multi-billion dollar merger effort, announced even before then that its “5G-like” service would begin rolling out in key markets including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and more by the end of 2018.
Verizon, aka Big Red, is also making big moves in its 5G race, announcing back in November that it hopes to roll-out nationwide residential 5G broadband by the end of this year. And on the 5G wireless front, Verizon is already testing its powerful next-gen network in 11 markets, including Ann Arbor, Michigan, Atlanta, Georgia, Bernardsville, New Jersey, Brockton, Massachusetts, and many more, with even greater expansion plans on the radar for 2019.
Meanwhile, it’s not entirely clear when Apple plans to introduce 5G wireless connectivity on its mobile devices — but the company has been granted a license to begin testing 5G in the vicinity of its Cupertino headquarters and the San Francisco Bay Area.