AT&T has somewhat thrown down the gauntlet to its competitors when it comes to Fifth Generation (5G) mobile networks. The carrier announced that they plan to have true 5G coverage in a dozen cities by late 2018 and aim to be the first to offer the next generation, high speed mobile data solution.
This will be different than the pseudo 5G that both AT&T and Verizon are offering which, more-or-less, is beefed up 4G. Indeed, AT&T plans to continue development on what they market as their “5G Evolution” product, which is currently available in 23 cities.
The carrier was clear in pointing out that they can accelerate their plans thanks to the 5G NR (New Radio) standard that was defined last month by the 3GPP. That standard means that manufactures can start working on modems and chips sets and carriers will know what to expect and can build their networks.
If AT&T is able to get to market first with a true 5G mobile solution, they will be slightly ahead of Verizon who plans to offer 5G this year too. Sprint is looking to 2019 before they get updated while T-Mobile is looking at 2020.
The outlying question, however, will be when we will see 5G compatible phones. That will be this year too and likely will be ahead of any networks that are ready from the carriers.
The promise of 5G could make things like streaming 4K video and true live broadcasting on mobile networks viable and reliable. 2018 is going to be an interesting year as it develops.