AT&T: 5G by End of Year, but No Commercial Launch Date Yet

AT&T said Thursday afternoon that it will be "first where it matters most" with 5G but hasn't yet revealed its commercial launch date for the new network in the waning days of 2018.

Speaking on the operator's analyst day call, John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Communications unit, offered an update on the operator's 5G progress. AT&T, he stressed, would offer a standards-based mobile network, aka using the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio (5G NR) specification, later this year. Donovan didn't mention Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s pre-standard fixed wireless 5G offering by name, but clearly the 5G Home service is AT&T's key play -- in fact, only play -- for next-gen network sevices this year. (See Verizon's Home-Grown 5G Arrives Today.)

Donovan hasn't revealed yet when or where AT&T's commercial 5G service will be available. "By the end of year. we'lll be turning up that first netork," he said on the call.

AT&T plans to have parts of 12 markets up by the end of the year with mobile 5G. Donovan notes that the operator will offer its "mobile puck" to consumers first. AT&T's 5G is expected to move into 19 cities (so far) in 2019. (See 5G in the USA: Fall Edition and AT&T Reveals First Commercial 5G Device.)

AT&T has told Light Reading that it has 5G sites live in Dallas and Waco, Texas now. But the operator has not yet launched its commercial 5G service. (See AT&T Says First 5G Sites Are Live in Texas and When Will AT&T First Launch 5G?)

"We believe the early opportunities are going to be in enterprise," Donovan said.

He noted that AT&T's work with Samsung Corp. on "robotic manufacturing" and augmented reality with Magic Leap Inc. indicate some routes forward for 5G enterprise offerings. (See 5G & the Factory of the Future.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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