AT&T and 5G


With more people than ever having cell phones, and the number of companies that are itching to get you as a long-term customer, it’s no surprise AT&T is working to establish 5G capability, which will work better and faster than the current 4G and LTE technology. If you are looking to change cell phone companies, or are comparing to see who has the best bang for your buck, consider the accessibility to 5G in your decision making process.

For those unfamiliar, 5G is the fifth generation of wireless network. It will replace the 4G, or LTE, which took out the 3G over the last decade. 5G technology has been a work in progress and promises to increase phone speeds and the ability to network everything without interruption.

Cellular Networks is a Competitive Business

AT&T is a forerunner in the cellular world, along with Verizon and Sprint. Even cable companies, like Spectrum, are trying to use their current infrastructure and develop a cell phone service that can be bundled with their cable customers. Since so many people are cutting the landline, this impacts companies like Spectrum who offer landline service, so breaking into the cellular world is a natural step. But can they compete with the big boys? Time will tell.

How AT&T is Working to Up Their Game

AT&T is in the process of upgrading their service to keep a competitive edge over their existing and new cell provides. To do this they are:

  • Adding fiber to their network to allow for higher speeds
  • Increasing service area coverage
  • Increasing capacity within their coverage areas to support more data usage
  • Add new towers and tower equipment that can be updated with software programs

Is 5G Possible and When Can I Get it?

In areas where technology has already been improved within the AT&T network, 5G is available mostly through 5G hotspots. Currently, 5G Evolution has been deployed as a cry for attention, and is available in over 400 market areas. It is expected that by the middle of 2019, 5G Evolution will expand to nearly all of the United States. If you are wondering if your phone is able to get 5G service, check out the indicator in the top left of your phone. If it says LTE, you are still on 4G, however, if it says 5GE, your cell service is running at the best speed possible, until true 5G wireless is installed in your city.

What if you see 5G+? This too is an AT&T upgraded version, bouncing off of the 5GE platform which allows for faster speeds in certain markets. So far 12 cities are getting 5G+ service.

This does not mean these cities are running at the 5G peak, however. It just means it is running on the best version of the upgrade available at the moment. As time goes on, speeds are expected to get faster and better. The goal is to get everyone up and running on 5G before upgrading the system with faster, and maximum, speeds. Because some of this requires infrastructure improvements, it’s a gradual progression.

Can My Phone Limit My Access to 5G?

The short answer is yes. As of right now, there is no cell phone designed to handle the full capability of 5G. Cell phone companies are working on launching 5G capable phones that can handle to true 5G network speeds. These are anticipated to hit the market by the end of 2019.

So, while your newer cell phone may seem to be working faster since the 5G indicator light activated, there is still much room for improvement.

While AT&T was the first company to launch 5G service, Verizon is not too far behind. What this means is that while technology is improving, the cost will most likely not be seen by the consumer since competition is already in the works. This means better service for you, without the added expense. By the end of 2020 it is anticipated everyone in the United States will see 5G as the norm.

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