AT&T said today that it has turned up mobile 5G service in seven more markets, including Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. In a press release, the carrier notes that there are 19 AT&T 5G markets in which AT&T is the only company offering mobile 5G.
That statement appears to be a jab at Verizon, which gained some traction by announcing last week that it had launched the first 5G smartphone. (The solution is a bit kluge-y, as customers must purchase a separate module to attach to a specific Motorola smartphone model. But it is less kluge-y than the device currently supporting AT&T’s mobile 5G offering, which is a 5G hotspot that connects to the customer’s smartphone via Wi-Fi.)
To date, Verizon has launched only two mobile 5G markets – Chicago and Minneapolis. AT&T previously announced plans to offer mobile 5G in those markets as well. Verizon has said, however, that it plans to launch 30 markets in 2019.
Perhaps in response to Verizon’s 5G smartphone news last week, AT&T also said in today’s press release that it plans to offer at least three mobile 5G devices in 2019. The next device to be offered will be a Samsung S10 5G smartphone, which will be available “this spring,” the carrier said. A second Samsung 5G smartphone will follow later this year, according to the company.
AT&T also took the opportunity in today’s press release to share quotes from several business customers that have been using the company’s mobile 5G service. A general contractor touted the service’s ability to quickly transfer files, enabling workflows to run smoothly even when the user is at a construction site.
An architectural firm also touted the fast speeds that the AT&T mobile 5G service supports.
AT&T has said that it expects to see mobile 5G adopted first by business customers, with consumers following.
AT&T’s press release today is the latest example of how fiercely carriers are competing on the 5G front. AT&T and Verizon were so aggressive on that front that they had networks ready for commercial service before smartphones were available to work on those networks. Both companies, along with Sprint and T-Mobile, have been claiming any accomplishment they can position as a competitive differentiator.
T-Mobile, for example, has said that in 2020 it will be first with a nationwide 5G network, a claim based on the company’s plans to use low-frequency spectrum for that deployment. AT&T and Verizon 5G deployments to date have used millimeter wave spectrum, which can support higher speeds but over shorter distances.
Perhaps in response to T-Mobile’s previous claims, AT&T noted today that by early 2020, it expects to have “the best combination of mobile 5G – providing both the higher speeds available over mmWave spectrum and nationwide coverage available over “sub-6 [GHz]” spectrum.”