AT&T 5G network is now live in 12 cities

AT&T 5G network is now live in 12 cities

The AT&T 5G Evolution continues as the carrier's 5G network has gone live in parts of 12 cities this morning. This makes AT&T the first wireless carrier to launch a mobile network based on the 5G standard. A small number of customers will get to test the much faster speeds starting on Friday when AT&T will begin distributing its first 5G mobile hotspot.

These customers will be selected by AT&T as the carrier reaches out to businesses in the area and invites them to try out the new tech. During the launch period, those who pilot the 5G network and mobile hotspot won't be charged for the equipment or 5G service.

The general public won't be able to purchase these 5G mobile hotspots from AT&T's stores for several more months. AT&T is expected to begin selling the hotspot for $499 sometime in spring next year, with their first 5G plan set to cost $70 per month for 15GB. This initial plan is more expensive than the LTE plan offered with a similar 4G hot spot ($50 for 10GB), but it also offers more data.

While AT&T's 5G mobile hotspot has peak theoretical speeds of 1.2 Gbps, its “actual speeds will be lower.” During a demonstration of “real world” 5G at a conference earlier this month, AT&T was only able to top out at around 140 Mbps. While this is still around 3x faster than a typical LTE connection, but it’s nowhere near the gigabit speeds that we’ve been promised from 5G.

AT&T’s 5G network launched in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, San Antonio, and Waco. In the next six months, AT&T also plans to expand to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. In all cases, the network will only be present in “parts of” these cities.

Other major wireless carriers in the United States are planning to launch their 5G networks in the months ahead as well. T-Mobile promised to have 5G up and running in 30 cities this year, with actual usage starting in 2019. Verizon is planning a 5G hotspot for “early” next year (and have already launched a 5G home network), and Sprint says it’ll have a 5G smartphone in the first half of the year.

Earlier this year, AT&T said that it would have a 5G network live before the end of 2018. With today’s announcement, it seems to have met that goal, even if this is a very, very soft launch.

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