The upshot is that although AT&T's initial 5G service won't operate in quite the same way that most wireless customers are used to, it does give AT&T the ability to claim a 5G "first" in a highly competitive wireless market.
AT&T reiterated that its mobile 5G deployment will be based on emerging 3GPP standards, holding that the offering will integrate with current LTE technologies using the non-standalone configuration outlined in 3GPP release 15. It also said it'll add more 5G-capable devices and smartphones in 2019. I guess we will be able to live stream 4K 360 degree content from our smartphones!
AT&T plans to roll out 5G wireless coverage to a dozen cities during the remainder of 2018, among them Waco. Millimeter-wave spectrum only works in nearby, mostly line-of-sight applications, which means you'll have to be standing close to a 5G access point to get a signal. If you're wondering when your city might receive the technology, an AT&T spokesperson stated their 5G network would be rolling out to additional locations "in the coming months" but did not offer a specific time frame.
Besides being faster than today's 4G LTE systems, the next-generation 5G technology will have features designed for a streaming world.
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AT&T reports it is "the only US carrier that's announced plans to deliver this ground-breaking technology to its customers in 2018".
While AT&T and Verizon have made some strides with 5G, experts project these networks will launch in 2020.
"After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards", said AT&T senior Vice President Igal Elbaz. The company stated: "We are working with our vendors on an aggressive schedule to help ensure customers can enjoy 5G when we launch the network this year". But he said many of 5G's most compelling uses, such as autonomous cars, are still years in the future.