AT&T has announced that the roll-out of its new 5G cellular network will begin later this year. Upon launch, the service will be available in 12 initial cities, although these markets have not yet been identified.
The company’s new network will provide performance improvements for customers currently using the 4G LTE network. 5G wireless speeds even have the potential to surpass the performance of current wired ethernet connections.
Verizon, one of AT&T’s chief competitors in the cell phone carrier industry, has also previously announced that it will make a 5G data network available in late 2018. At this time, no smartphone manufacturers have released devices capable of connecting to 5G networks, but rumors suggest that the next evolution of the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy lines will include such support.
AT&T has indicated that alongside the roll-out of the 5G cellular network, it will also continue to invest in expansion of its 4G service, targeting customers who are using modern smartphones and tablets with LTE capabilities. The company is also still planning to launch another network called 5G Evolution, which features upgraded LTE antennae technology that will not require existing customers to purchase a new device.
Since 5G wireless speeds may close to double the performance of 4G LTE, analysts expect that the new network may also become a viable home internet option for many consumers. AT&T may ultimately offer its 5G service as both a mobile and home solution, which would allow customers to install a 5G router in their home and use it to connect to the internet from computers, televisions, and other smart devices.
3GPP, the international organization responsible for governing standards for cellular technology, only recently approved the technical specification for 5G in December of 2017. All cell phone carriers, including AT&T and Verizon, must meet the new standards in order to have their networks classified as true 5G.