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AT&T Says First 5G Device Will Be a Puck

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Feb 1, 2018, 8:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

When AT&T launches 5G service, the first device able to access it will not be a handset and will instead be a puck, according to comments made by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. "Getting the handsets at scale penetrated into the market will slow things down," noted Stephenson. "So that’s why we’re going to be deploying pucks ... in these 12 markets. So it is a mobile solution, but it’s not going to be a handset just because there aren’t going to be that many [5G] handsets available." The company expects to introduce the puck, a mobile hotspot of sorts, by the end of the year. Handsets with 5G on board won't reach the market until 2019. Stephenson said AT&T's FirstNet emergency network will help get its 5G network off the ground. The company is already at work putting up towers in underserved areas of the country. AT&T has allocated spectrum for FirstNet for these towers, and will also deploy 39 GHz of spectrum it expects to acquire from FiberTower on these same towers. "This is what’s required for 5G. We get from FiberTower an average of 360 MHz of nationwide spectrum. We’ll be putting this spectrum to work later this year." AT&T is expected to launch mmWave service on the 39 GHz airwaves.

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