Recently, AT&T received enormous criticism for essentially rolling out a fake "5G" network — hint: it's not really 5G, just 5G E, its advanced LTE network, which apparently is slower than other carrier's regular LTE speeds, ironically.
Even still, AT&T does have plans to roll out a legitimate 5G network, and it's moving fast: the carrier has now expanded its fledgling mobile network to "parts" of seven more cities, including Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.
As a result, AT&T's real 5G network is now in a total of 19 cities, dramatically eclipsing Verizon's two. But of course, there are caveats involved in this, which, while disappointing, should perhaps come as no surprise considering how barebones 5G still is.
AT&T 5G Rollout
The first catch is that AT&T's 5G coverage isn't that impressive just yet, with connections tending to get spotty depending on where the user is. This is typically because of high frequencies that limit coverage and disrupt signals indoors.
Then there's the subject of device support. 5G sounds great at and all, but it's practically useless if there's not a single device that supports its potential speeds yet. Thankfully, AT&T has one — the Netgear 5G hotspot. Smartphones are unfortunately unsupported at the moment. Still, that should change shortly once the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G arrives later this spring.
AT&T says it spent most of early 2019 laying the groundwork for its own 5G platform, collaborating with early adopters along the way.
"Last December we officially introduced the nation's first commercial mobile 5G service," said Andre Fuetsch, AT&T Labs president and CTO. "We spent the early part of this year accelerating and advancing our 5G network with early adopters by our side. And now it's time to offer this experience to more businesses and consumers in another 7 cities."
The carrier is also quick to remind everyone that it was the first in the country to surpass 1 Gb mobile speeds on a live 5G connection. It's working with "some of the most innovative companies in the world" to offer new experiences that are only possible with 5G connections. It did little to specify these, however.
Right now, 5G is no more than an overhyped buzz word within consumer tech. It's certainly promising, sure, but there are a number of issues left to resolve before the new standard begins phasing out LTE networks.