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AT&T Appears to be Serious About Launching Mobile 5G This Year

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In early January, shortly after AT&T told us that they had plans to launch mobile 5G before the end of 2018, the collective eye-roll throughout the industry could be felt far and wide. Having said very little about 5G in the lead-up to that proclamation, along with the fact that zero details were delivered in that initial statement, we weren’t about to take them seriously until we learned more. Today, they delivered more.

Not only do we know the first AT&T 5G cities that will go live later in 2018, we know some of the network tech they plan to deploy as this whole 5G thing builds out.

First AT&T 5G cities

Again, AT&T said back in January that they would have 5G in up to a dozen markets before the end of the year. They haven’t backed off that claim and instead told us that parts of Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco will go live with mobile 5G. Since that’s only three, AT&T says that we’ll just have to stay tuned for the rest of the list.

I wouldn’t be shocked if we see cities like Austin and Indianapolis make the cut, since they are a couple of AT&T’s live 5G Evolution markets. Their other 5G Evolution cities list included Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Nashville, and San Francisco.

What’s the 5G plan?

Today’s announcement attempted to connect some of the dots, so that we know how AT&T plans to launch mobile 5G well ahead of T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. It’s not the clearest thing ever, because they mention 5G Evolution (which is not 5G), as well as LTE-LAA, which is currently a piece of everyone’s LTE network.

But AT&T does want to assure us that their 5G will be 3GPP standards based and operate over mmWave spectrum (just like Verizon and T-Mobile) initially. After that mmWave start, they will then deploy additional 5G technology on additional spectrum bands. AT&T says that the way they are “implementing 5G in the initial deployments will also seamlessly integrate with current LTE technologies,” plus the equipment they are deploying on their LTE network will be easy to migrate to 5G.

For those not following, this sounds like what everyone is doing, it’s just that AT&T claims to be on a schedule to kick off a lot of this before 2018 ends. While there won’t be a single phone available to take advantage of their 5G network, we might get a hotspot or two. 5G phones aren’t going to rollout out until next year.

And there you have it. Those are AT&T’s early plans for launching 5G in 2018. Think they’ll do it?

// AT&T

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