AT&T EVP of Regulatory and State External Affairs Joan Marsh took to the company's official website earlier this week to praise three U.S. cities that have been accepting of the wireless carrier's 5G efforts and contributed to accelerating them in recent times. Ms. Marsh singled out Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Little Rock as important partners in the company's 5G project, describing them as an example for other cities to follow if they want to be among the first to benefit from the next generation of mobile networks that's widely touted as having the potential to lead to the fourth industrial revolution.
The executive praised Minneapolis for its healthy approach to small cell deployment, with Minnesota itself recently enacting a law that accelerates such efforts, giving cities 90 days to respond to small cell installation requests. Whereas installation costs of small cell sites remain rather high in most parts of the country, Minnesota set a fixed $150 fee per a single station and an extra $25 maintenance fee per site paid annually, allowing AT&T to easily predict its buildout and infrastructural management costs, Ms. Marsh revealed. Indiana's capital also received praise for its small cell deployment permits that take no longer than 60 days to be issued or denied, having a maximum attachment rate of $50 per node. Little Rock was also commended by AT&T's official for its recent small cell ordinance that accelerates 5G installation efforts and responds to deployment permits within two months.
All three cities will be among the first to benefit from AT&T's debut mobile 5G network scheduled to start rolling out in late 2018, Ms. Marsh suggested. The Dallas, Texas-based telecom giant is initially planning to prioritize around a dozen cities in total before moving on to large-scale 5G deployment next year with the goal of offering nationwide coverage by 2020, according to its previous statements. The initial version of the network will be launched without compatible smartphones and will instead offer "pucks," whereas first 5G-ready handsets are expected to hit the market in early 2019. Samsung's Galaxy S10 series that's rumored to be advertised as the Galaxy X is likely to offer 5G capabilities, as are 2018 flagships from LG, Sony, Huawei, and other major Android OEMs.