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AT&T Targets Late 2018 for Consumer Mobile 5G Launch

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Jan 4, 2018, 7:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it expects to launch commercial mobile 5G service in a dozen markets by late 2018. The company claims it will be the first U.S. carrier to offer such service. AT&T will use the proposed 5G New Radio specification that was given initial approval by the 3GPP last month. AT&T believes that the early version of the 5G standard, though still not final, is enough to give hardware, chipset, and device makers the ledge they need to begin developing 5G components and goods. AT&T didn't say which 12 markets will be first to see 5G service. In addition to offering 5G to consumers, AT&T will continue to trial various 5G technologies with its business customers. The goalposts for 5G are to provide sub-5-millisecond latency and speeds in excess of 1 Gbps. AT&T provided a progress report for its other wireless efforts. For example, AT&T plans to increase the footprint of its LTE-LAA service by dozens of markets this year. The company has already begun offering what it calls 5G Evolution in 23 metro areas around the country, which targets entertainment experiences. AT&T will continue to roll out 5G Evolution throughout 2018. The company largely finished deploying LTE-M for the Internet of Things last year, and it will continue to upgrade that service over the next 12 months. The company is providing fixed-wireless internet to 440,000 locations across 18 states, and plans to reach 660,000 locations by the end of 2018 and 1.1 million locations by the end of 2020 (in those same 18 states). The company kicked off pre-standards 5G fixed wireless service in Austin, Kalamazoo, South Bend, and Waco last year, as well as two Project AirGig trials. Last, this is all supported by a broader base fiber network, which reached 7 million new locations across 67 metro areas in 2017. AT&T says its fiber backbone will spread to 3 million more customers this year and at least 83 metro areas by the middle of 2019.


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