Great news today if you woke up in Charlotte, Raleigh, or Oklahoma City. AT&T announced that these three southern cities will be the next on the list to get a true mobile 5G rollout this year. The company had previously announced Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco as 5G rollout cities back in February. It’s all part of a plan to bring 5G coverage to 12 cities before the end of 2018.
Many people, including this blogger, had been under the impression that 5G wouldn’t come to cell phones until 2021 or 2022 because of the power requirements, and that 5G would first be seen in “fixed wireless” installations where the new technology would be used to replace wired internet in people’s homes.
5G is a big jump
5G will eventually give cell phones the ability to surf at 1,000Mbps, which is about 30 times faster than most real-world speeds today. The challenge will be fitting 5G hardware into a cell phone without completely eating up the phone’s battery. This is the same challenge we saw when 4G and LTE were rolled out. Eventually things get more efficient, but it should be interesting to see how phone manufacturers address this issue.
Still waiting on phones, but
There hasn’t been a definitive list of phones that will work with 5G. There’s an excellent chance your phone isn’t on it. My guess is that it will be limited to a few models that are specifically designed for it. Those phones will only be available in those cities getting 5G. I’m still guessing it will be at least two more years before 5G phones are common.
On the other hand, AT&T is rolling out new technologies that could double the speeds you’re getting now, on the phone you have now. They call it “5G Evolution” even though it’s really not 5G, but as far as I’m concerned they could call it Billy Flynn if it really doubles my speed without killing my phone’s battery.
5G Evolution will be put in place wherever AT&T upgrades its towers for its FirstNet first responder network. FirstNet is being rolled out all over the country. It will allow police and fire personnel to have clear cell service when they need it. Since AT&T is going up those towers anyway, they are changing out some of the boards in their towers to more advanced ones and supposedly, that will mean fast speeds for everyone.
An exciting time
There’s no question that AT&T is a phone company, and they have been since the beginning. Of course they’ve ventured into a lot of different things. At the heart of all of it, personal communication is the key. They are investing in this new 5G technology and rolling it out to city after city. They’re sure to continue their leadership in communications for years to come.