AT&T has announced its plans to unveil its 5G Evolution network in more cities by the end of the year, following the launch of the service in Austin, Texas this month and in Indianapolis, Indiana this summer. Some of the areas that will experience better speeds brought about by AT&T’s improved network are the cities of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, and San Francisco. Once the 5G Evolution service launches in these areas, subscribers of AT&T should experience improved speeds of up to twice what they are currently experiencing on the wireless carrier. There is a caveat though, as subscribers need to buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus units to take advantage of the improved service.
It is important to note that AT&T qualifies the term as 5G Evolution, and not 5G, with the carrier clarifying that at this point the wireless carrier is simply laying the foundation needed for 5G while the 5G standards are being finalized. This means that what AT&T is advertising is not “true” 5G and simply an improvement on the existing 4G LTE standards, with additional features like advanced carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO, and 256-QAM. These are features laid down by other carriers like T-Mobile several months ago, bringing network download speed increases of around 30% and uplink speed increases of 50%. T-Mobile’s claimed download speeds of 400Mbps is similar to what AT&T has claimed in its earlier announcement regarding the theoretical maximum download speeds of its 5G Evolution network.
Regarding the “true” 5G, AT&T has been conducting tests to ensure proper and flawless deployment and commercialization of 5G. AT&T has partnered with numerous companies, like telecommunications suppliers and system providers to test 5G for its intended use cases. Last year, AT&T partnered with Ericsson and Intel for download speed testing in their testing laboratories in Austin, Texas wherein the group measured 14Gbps download speeds to a single user in the 30GHz band. The wireless carrier has also partnered with systems provider NI to design and manufacture a channel characterization tool that could characterize 5G signals accurately and quickly, paving the way for testing 5G signals in moving vehicles. Despite the fact that standards are not yet finalized, carriers are mobilizing to quickly commercialize 5G, with South Korean and Japanese carriers hoping to deploy 5G in select areas in time for the Winter and Summer Olympics a few years from now.