AT&T 5G markets targeted for deployment in 2019 will include Minneapolis and Chicago, the company said today. In addition to previously announced markets, that means the company plans to serve at least 21 markets by year-end.
The company also said some customers have seen speeds as high as 400 Mbps on the company’s 5G network, although a footnote cautions that average numbers are lower.
AT&T 5G Markets
AT&T launched its first twelve 5G markets in December. The company now has announced plans for nine additional markets for 2019, including the two announced today.
The AT&T 5G network is a mobile one, but because 5G smartphones are not yet available, current customers are using a 5G/ Wi-Fi hotspot to support service. Verizon addressed the lack of 5G smartphones in a different manner, launching 5G initially as a fixed service.
As AT&T notes in a blog post, the maximum speeds that initial customers have reached on AT&T’s 5G network are the result not only of using 5G technology but of deploying service in the millimeter wave band. The downside to using that spectrum is that it requires dense cellsite infrastructure, potentially lengthening deployment times.
Not surprisingly, AT&T said last month that it will deploy 5G in sub-6 GHz spectrum bands nationwide in the first half of 2020. That decision will enable faster deployment. In theory, though, speeds should be lower than what initial customers have experienced in the millimeter wave band.
AT&T is exploring enhancements to its 5G network, however, and early testing on that network suggests those enhancements could boost speeds substantially. The company said earlier this month that it had achieved speeds of 1.5 Gbps via a software upgrade. Perhaps applying that software upgrade to the company’s planned sub-6 GHz 5G network could bring the speeds in line with what customers have experienced already in the millimeter wave band.
Also in today’s blog post, AT&T referenced a business customer that is using the carrier’s 5G network. The customer, Deep South Studios, is using 5G to transfer large amounts of high-definition video, including high-resolution graphics and video effects.
AT&T has said that it sees businesses being the initial adopters of 5G service. Some of the applications the company expects to support involve the Internet of Things and would likely require custom development. But the Deep South application is an example of a use case that can work with the service and equipment that AT&T deployed at the initial launch.