Wireless giant AT&T announced Wednesday that Waco, Dallas and Atlanta would receive its high-speed mobile 5G service by year’s end.
The announcement created a stir in the telecommunications industry, as AT&T becomes the first major carrier to identify multiple markets where it will launch 5G in 2018. It had conducted tests of its system in several communities around the country, including in Waco, where it installed equipment at Magnolia Market at the Silos, Sixth Street and Webster Avenue.
Mobile 5G is intended to allow much greater speeds for calling, texting, browsing and other wireless functions than 4G LTE standards.
Verizon has also announced plans to roll out 5G service this year, and Spring and T-Mobile have announced plans to start offering the service next year, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“We plan to offer mobile 5G to customers in a dozen cities, including parts of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas, by the end of this year,” according to an AT&T press release. “We’ll announce additional cities in the coming months.”
Igal Elbaz, senior vice president for Wireless Network Architecture, said in the press release the rollout is coming sooner than expected.
“After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G — and do it much sooner than most people thought possible,” Elbaz wrote.
The announcement is significant, but “No major phone maker currently sells a 5G compatible phone—not Apple, or Samsung, or anyone else,” according to a report by Fortune Magazine.
Phone companies will unveil new models at the Mobile World Congress trade show next week in Barcelona, Spain, “but none of those are expected to support 5G, either,” according to Fortune. 5G wireless hotspots are likely to be available in the test markets this year, according to the report.
“We’re working on an aggressive schedule to help ensure customers can enjoy mobile 5G when we launch the network this year,” according to the AT&T press release. “We will add more 5G capable mobile devices and smartphones in early 2019 and beyond.”
Gordon Mansfield, AT&T’s vice president of radio access network and device design, said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News that Dallas was chosen because it is the hometown of the company, while Waco had the 5G pilot program at the Silos.
Atlanta was chosen because it is a large city in the southeast and is home to one of the company’s largest offices, he told the Morning News.
The consulting firm Accenture reported that telecom operators may invest up to $275 billion in infrastructure for 5G, according to the Morning News.
AT&T is running a new 5G lab in Austin, according to its press release.
“The lab will be where our engineers can build and test creative solutions and run ‘stress tests’ — simulating real-world customer experiences — with mobile 5G network equipment and devices from multiple vendors before they are rolled out to customers.”