AT&T to roll more 5G this year, even more in 2019

They’re doing it. Back in July I reported that AT&T had increased the number of cities that will have 5G service this year. Now, in addition to Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh and Waco, they’re adding five more.

Five more places to be jealous of

If you’re looking to visit a city with the best, fastest internet, you can also go to Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio. Not a bad deal for southerners, I must say. That’s not all, though.

The west gets some love too.

Sometime in 2019, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose will join the 5G bandwagon. This puts 5G into the hands of people in some of America’s largest cities, leading us to ask…

Where are the 5G phones?

Today it is practically impossible to actually get a phone with 5G inside it. None of the major manufacturers (by which I guess I mean Apple and Samsung) have one, and you certainly can’t go into an AT&T store and say, “I want me one of them there 5G phones.” At least not today. 5G phones really only exist for test purposes… today.

But, that could be about to change. Tomorrow, Apple is widely expected to show new iPhones. Will they have 5G? It’s possible, although unlikely. Apple generally lags behind in phone technologies, preferring to jump in when things settle down a little bit. This has been true ever since the beginning. The original iPhone supported only 2G/EDGE when the rest of the world was drooling over 3G. (Hey, remember this was 2007.)

More importantly, the rest of the cellular world is converging in Los Angeles this week for the Mobile World Congress Americas show. If there are going to be 5G phones, they could be announced there. Our blog team will be in Los Angeles this week and if there’s anything interesting to report, you’ll read it here.

What does the history tell us?

If the move to 5G is anything like what we saw in the move to LTE, 4G, and even 3G, it will follow a predictable pattern. The first manufacturer with 5G phones for the public will probably be someone you haven’t heard of like Xiaomi. They’ll come into the market hoping that being the first with 5G will help them sell phones and establish a position in the marketplace. This will work short term but sometime before January you’ll probably see LG or Samsung showing a 5G capable phone. It may have limitations like bulky size or poor battery life, but it will be 5G capable. Most likely, the 5G iPhone and the 5G Galaxy phone you really want will be available sometime next summer. By then, the nationwide rollout of 5G will be a little further along. That means there will be room in the marketplace for a mass-appeal 5G phone.

Personally, I can’t wait. It’s not that I’m unhappy with what I have, but the very idea that I can get mobile internet as fast as I want without ever worrying about it… that’s pretty amazing.