AT&T has announced that Indianapolis is the seventh city that will get 5G service this year. Previously, the carrier has said that AT&T 5G markets to launch in 2018 would include Atlanta; Charlotte and Raleigh, NC; and Dallas; Oklahoma City and Waco, TX. Five cities remain to be named.
“Indy is a city on the forefront of innovation and technology. Home to a variety of large and small businesses, thriving communities, and a local government that understands the importance of technology to fuel innovation and boost economic growth,” Bill Soards, the president of AT&T Indiana, said in a press release. “Whether you’re a retailer, car wash owner, hospital, manufacturer, public safety entity or a bank, we expect 5G will eventually change the customer experience and provide new economic opportunities for your business. It was a natural choice for AT&T to name Indy as one of the twelve introductory 5G cities.”
AT&T has been upgrading the Indianapolis area network in preparation for 5G. The carrier said says that it has invested almost $425 million in wireless and wired networks between 2015 and last year. The goals were to boost reliability, coverage, speed and performance for residents and businesses. More than 525 wireless network upgrades were made last year, including new cell sites, high-speed Internet connections and capacity boosts. 5G Evolution, which increases speeds for compliant devices to 400 Mbps launched. LTE-LAA, which enables wireless carriers to use unlicensed spectrum previously used primarily for Wi-Fi and other technologies, also is in use. That provides peak theoretical speeds of 1 Gbps.
The race for 5G bragging rights is in full swing. Key details are missing, however. Last month – when AT&T added Charlotte, Raleigh and Oklahoma City to the lineup – the carrier was vague about spectrum allocations but subsequently said it would use millimeter wave for at least some of its initial 5G launches.
There also is a level of fuzziness on the availability of handsets. During an earnings call early this year, chairman, chief executive officer and president Randall Stephenson referred to “hockey pucks,” which may be an allusion to hotspot support for mobile 5G, which could be seen as something of a workaround. Industry observers are not expecting to see 5G smartphones until 2019.
Verizon is in the game as well, of course. Last month, the carrier said that Houston is joining Los Angeles and Sacramento as 5G fixed wireless markets targeted for 2018. Fixed wireless widely is considered a logical first step for 5G because it enables carriers and their ecosystems to bypass many of the challenges of mobile operations and management, at least temporarily.