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AT&T Begins C-Band 5G Rollout In Select Metro Areas

5G Logo Illustration AH May 6 19
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AT&T has begun the rollout of its C-Band 5G technology, which brings faster connection speeds and wider coverage. The company has flipped the switch on the new 5G spectrum in eight metro areas in the US. These include Austin, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, Orlando, and South Florida. It will expand the rollout to more regions throughout this year.

According to AT&T, the C-Band 5G spectrum is currently supported by 17 devices available online and in its stores. These should include Google’s latest Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro as well as Samsung’s Galaxy S21 series and the new foldables. Users of these devices with access to the new spectrum should start seeing improved speeds today, AT&T’s executive vice president Chris Sambar suggested in a blog post announcing the rollout.

Chris added that AT&T covers 255 million people with low-band 5G connectivity in more than 16,000 cities and towns in the US. Its mmWave 5G is also available in “more than 40 cities and nearly 30 stadiums and venues”. The new C-Band spectrum will now complement the capabilities of the two existing 5G technologies.

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AT&T is delaying the C-Band 5G rollout around some airports

AT&T, as well as Verizon, originally planned to begin their C-Band 5G rollout in early December 2021. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the country’s major airlines raised questions of the new spectrum’s possible interference with aviation technology. This could potentially have disastrous effects on flight operations.

As such, both carriers agreed to delay the rollout first until January 5, 2022, and then later postponed the plans to January 19. However, just a day ahead of the scheduled rollout, airlines asked the Biden administration for “immediate intervention” over the same fears.

Both AT&T and Verizon have now agreed to delay their C-Band 5G rollout around 50 airports in the country. The companies are, of course, not happy about it but they have no other option. There’s no timeline either for when they will be able to activate the new spectrum at those locations. Reports suggest the two carriers are discussing the possibility of deploying the technology with buffer zones. This could allow them to activate 5G on the vast majority of towers around the said 50 airports. But nothing has seemingly come out of those discussions yet.

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Meanwhile, the carriers will continue to deploy the tech where they can. AT&T has already flipped the switch on C-Band 5G technology in eight metro areas. Verizon also plans to activate the new spectrum in over 1,700 cities around the nation this month.

Note that the FAA concern doesn’t apply to T-Mobile as its 5G network does not use the C-Band spectrum. The company doesn’t plan to deploy this 5G technology until late 2023. It expects these concerns to have been mitigated by that time.