AT&T plans to take another step toward next-generation networking ahead of the Super Bowl 52 in February by launching its 5G Evolution network upgrade across parts of Minneapolis over the coming months. That's according to a new post on the company's official newsroom blog. For those who may not be aware, 5G standards have not technically been set yet so this isn't a true 5G network. Instead, it is an advanced LTE network that shifts technologies toward what those standards are eventually expected to encompass. Specifically, devices that support the use of the network update can take advantage of advanced carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO, and 256-QAM simultaneously. That brings substantial improvements to overall network speeds as a result but advanced LTE features are not exclusive to any carrier at this point, either. Meanwhile, Minneapolis is just one market in which AT&T plans to launch 5G Evolution throughout the rest of the year. Although the carrier hasn't provided any specifics, at least 19 other markets should see the improvements over the course of 2017 and into early 2018.
Unfortunately, AT&T hasn't provided any specifics with regard to which other markets its upgraded LTE network will be brought to. Additionally, as of this writing, the carrier says that only 6 devices in total will support the full advantages of the implementation. Despite that the company says more devices will be supported soon, those only currently include the LG V30, Moto Z2 Force Edition, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S8+, and the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active. As to the network implementation itself, the primary focus in Minneapolis will reportedly center around specific parts of the city associated with the Super Bowl itself. Aside from the Sports Stadium and immediately surrounding area, that likely means the change will affect users in other areas of the city where Super Bowl-related events are taking place.
Although the improvements can't be said to encapsulate a true 5G network, the process for setting the standards for those next-generation networks has been steadily moving ahead. Bearing that in mind, AT&T also took advantage of its Minneapolis reveal to tout a timeline for when the company plans to begin implementation of 5G. According to the announcement, the company currently aims to deliver "standards-based 5G" before the close of 2018.