AT&T, which like other carriers has been trialing the next generation of faster wireless service known as 5G, says it will launch the ultrafast broadband capability in “a dozen markets” by late this year.
Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile also are planning 5G networks, although timing and availability varies.
5G offers the promise of faster speeds, less latency and better use of wireless spectrum.
AT&T did not identify the markets where 5G will be deployed first.
The launch of 5G follows the recent agreement on standards to guide the industry.
“5G will change the way we live, work and enjoy entertainment,” said Melissa Arnoldi, president of AT&T Technology and Operations, in a statement. “We’re moving quickly to begin deploying mobile 5G this year and start unlocking the future of connectivity for consumers and businesses. With faster speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video and more.”
The race to deploy
The standards were agreed to by a group known as 3GPP, which is responsible for international wireless standards.
“This allows us to provide mobile 5G services sooner,” AT&T said in its announcement.
“We’re confident this latest standards milestone will allow us to bring 5G to market faster without compromising its long-term vision.”
The competition is expected to be fierce.
“As for Verizon? It’s been testing 5G home broadband ahead of a 2018 debut, so we’d expect mobile 5G not too long after that.”
Faster interim upgrades
Like its rivals, AT&T has also been upgrading existing 4G LTE service, although the Triangle is not yet on the list.
Branded 5G Evolution, the upgrade is available in 23 metros, according to AT&T. They include:
Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; Chicago; Fresno; Greenville, South Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Louisville; Memphis; Nashville; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Tulsa, Oklahoma and Sacramento, Calif.
The “evolution” will be added in “hundreds of additional markets, AT&T said.
AT&T also is continuing to deploy and test other high-speed wireless services.