AT&T has today announced that it will begin rolling out “5G Evolution” in Austin and Indianapolis in the coming months. 5G continues to be a major competition point between the major carriers in the US and this is AT&T’s next step in rolling out a ‘true 5G’ network. In terms of understanding what 5G Evolution is, this is 5G but in a lighter capacity. Specifically, AT&T notes that 5G Evolution will offer smartphone owners the ability to make use of a connection with a theoretical speed limit of 400Mbps. Here is is where the major difference lies as ‘true 5G’ is expected to offer up to a gigabit (1Gbps) speed. Although on that point, the same AT&T announcement states that as AT&T continues to ‘densify their network and deploy technologies’, they do expect to “enable theoretical peak speeds up to 1Gbps” sometime this year, in some areas. Although, details on which areas were not provided.
It seems the use of 5G Evolution is part of a wider forward-thinking initiative that AT&T is calling “Network 3.0 Indigo” and simply, “Indigo” for short. According to AT&T’s Chief Strategy Officer and Group President for Technology and Operations, John Donovan, AT&T sees Indigo as the “third generation of modern networking”. The announcement goes on to explain that Indigo is much more than just an upgrade with Donovan liking Indigo to a smartphone’s operating system. Specifically noting that AT&T is taking this sort of all-encompassing platform approach to its network where all aspects of the network will eventually become “more seamless, efficient and capable”.
Coming back to the 5G Evolution availability, those based in the first supported areas and looking to take advantage of 5G Evolution’s peak theoretical wireless speeds, will of course, need to have a compatible smartphone. While AT&T does pick up on this point in the announcement, AT&T does not go into any specifics in explaining which current devices are compatible, if any. So this could be something that will likely determine an individual AT&T customer's eligibility for the service, irrespective of whether they live in Austin or Indianapolis. Either way though, today's announcement does seem to be a rather important step in terms of AT&T paving the way for their 5G plans.