Mobile 5G is finally becoming an American reality this week, with AT&T announcing its seminal device capable of communicating with the next generation of wireless networks will be launching alongside a consumer-grade service on Friday. December 21. The gadget in question will come in the form of the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, whereas the service itself is live as of today in select areas of twelve cities: Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla., San Antonio, Waco, Texas, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, Atlanta, and Charlotte, N.C. AT&T has a fix pricing strategy for its first take on the new telecom standard and likely won't be pitching the new technology to anyone but the most passionate tech enthusiasts and large companies.
The first 5G service, except not really but actually yes, really
AT&T is hence set to win the 5G race in the United States which has been getting complicated in recent months. While the Dallas, Texas-based telecom giant is technically not the first to launch a wireless service based on an entirely new specification in the country, it is the first to do so with a technology relying on the 3GPP's 5G New Radio standard. In layman's terms, the 5G Home solution Verizon launched on October 1 is not technically 5G because words don't really mean anything when it comes to marketing. That isn't to say Verizon's service doesn't offer unprecedented speeds and latencies in the context of consumer-grade use cases but its underlying technological framework uses a proprietary specification which isn't nearly as scalable and could easily be abandoned in due time, whereas 5G NR will be driven forward by the entire global wireless industry and not any individual company. And while Verizon's first take on the next generation of telecommunications has been solely envisioned as a fixed wireless access (FWA) technology intended to rival traditional home routers, AT&T is promising a "real" mobile experience, or as real as one can get without an actual 5G-ready handset. Until (Android) smartphones capable of communicating with next-gen wireless networks hit the stateside market in the first half of 2019, consumers in select areas of the country will be able to take advantage of AT&T's latest solutions via Netgear's incoming hotspot whose existence has already been confirmed several weeks ago.
5G is a privilege and privileges cost
Due to the fact AT&T's service utilizes 3GPP-compliant technologies, the second-largest network operator in the country believes it can ramp up their deployment in an aggressive manner shortly following their initial test run. In more concrete terms, the firm is planning to bring its seminal service to seven more cities in the first half of the next year, having already named those locales as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. What remains to be seen is how successful will the company be at actually selling its new solution to consumers seeing how the expected price of the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot alone is $499, and that's not accounting for $70 per 15GB of a monthly data allowance (without a contract). Perhaps needless to say but mobile speeds surpassing the current capabilities of LTE technologies are hardly useful with strict data caps and it's still unclear how exactly does AT&T intent to convince consumers that its seminal service actually provides significant value. The telecom juggernaut also intends to offer the solution to businesses but hasn't shared any concrete details on the matter so far.