AT&T 5G service is already live in 12 markets the carrier announced today. An official launch is planned for Friday December 21st, with AT&T branding the service as 5G+.The markets include Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh, N.C.; San Antonio; and Waco, Texas.
AT&T claims to be the first to market in the U.S. with a standards-based mobile 5G network. They are using both the terms mobile and markets quite loosely. The markets will see limited availability and coverage of 5G+ service, and the mobile aspect will only include a mobile hotspot Mi-Fi device, at least for now.
“This is the first taste of the mobile 5G era,” said Andre Fuetsch, president, AT&T Labs and chief technology officer in a prepared statement. “Being first, you can expect us to evolve very quickly. It’s early on the 5G journey and we’re ready to learn fast and continually iterate in the months ahead.”
In these first AT&T 5G markets, customers can purchase the NETGEAR Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot for $499. The hotspot connects to the 5G network via mmWave spectrum, allowing other devices to connect to it via Wi-Fi. AT&T will sell 15GB of 5G data for $70 per month. AT&T will offer 5G data at no cost for the first 90 days as a promotional offer.
Outside of the limited 5G+ coverage areas, the Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot can tap AT&T’s 5G Evolution coverage, which features advanced 4G LTE coverage for much faster mobile broadband. Will be interesting to see if customers can even tell the difference. AT&T says 5G Evolution will be in 385 markets.
“As the ecosystem evolves, this technology will ultimately change the way we live and conduct business,” said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer, AT&T Business in the press release. “We expect that our initial adopters will be innovative, growing businesses.”
Katibeth’s comments echo an AT&T company line that suggests initial 5G deployments will be business and enterprise focused, rather than end consumer. The $499 entry point for a 5G device isn’t particularly attractive to end consumers.
AT&T 5G markets will expand in the first half of 2019 to include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., the company announced.