Ahead of Mobile World Congress Americas this week, AT&T Monday announced five new mobile 5G markets for launch by the end of 2018, and revealed major cities for launch in 2019.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is adding "parts of" Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio for its planned 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) -based New Radio (5G NR) launch before the end of the year. AT&T has already announced Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh and Waco for its late 2018 5G roster. (See AT&T Picks Indy as 7th Mobile 5G City .)
The operator also revealed that mobile 5G will arrive in "parts" of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose in early 2019.
AT&T is promising that it will launch a mobile service in 2018, but hasn't yet unveiled a smartphone, instead launching with a "mobile puck" -- a router that distributes the 5G signal to devices via WiFi -- on millimeter wave high-band spectrum. The initial promise of the service will be "enhanced broadband" with 1Gbit/s download speeds being clocked in AT&T fixed wireless 5G tests. (See AT&T 5G Tests Go Gaga for Gigabit.)
"Our 5G deployment strategy will include using millimeter wave spectrum to deploy 5G in pockets of dense areas -- where demand on our network is high and extra capacity and coverage is needed most," AT&T said in a statement. "In other parts of urban areas and in suburban and rural areas, we plan to deploy 5G on our mid and low-band spectrum holdings."
This is likely why the operator uses the "parts of" phraseology for its initial 5G cities. Millimeter wave has gigabit-speed capabilities, but at a range of around 2,000 feet, explaining its use in "dense urban" areas. (See Millimeter Wave 5G: The Usain Bolt of Wireless? and 5G Fixin' to Become 'Largest Existential Threat' to Broadband Providers – Analysts.)
AT&T also noted that, in in Waco, Texas, over the weekend, it "made the world's first wireless 5G data transfer over millimeter wave using standards-based, production equipment with a mobile form factor device. Not a lab. Not preproduction hardware. Not emulators. And fully compliant with global standards."
The operator said that feat was achieved using a Qualcomm "smartphone form factor test device" built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem and RF subsystem and "Ericsson 5G-NR capable radios connected to our virtual 3X standards compliant core." For more details, see this AT&T announcement.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading