AT&T Caps 5G Speeds at 2 Gbit/s Huh?

Mike Dano
6/13/2019
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AT&T today announced it will start selling the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G to its business customers for $1,000.

But the device and the price are not the most interesting things here.

In the fine print in its press release on the matter, AT&T said that "5G+ speeds, where available, will be capped at 2Gbps."

Huh?

AT&T so far has built "real" 5G services using the 5G NR transmission standard in parts of 19 cities using its millimeter-wave spectrum holdings. The company has branded this offering as "5G+" -- which is not to be confused with the "5G E" brand it has applied to its LTE Advanced network, a move that elicited widespread condemnation.

AT&T initially recorded 5G+ speeds of up to 400 Mbit/s, but subsequently raised those peak speeds to 1 Gbit/s in March and then 2 Gbit/s in April. (Regular users rarely enjoy peak speeds -- you usually have to stand underneath a cell tower, with no one else using it, to get them.)

But now it appears that AT&T for some reason is going to cap its 5G+ speeds -- at least for business customers -- at 2 Gbit/s.

"Essentially, as we roll out the smartphone it helps provide a consistent experience for businesses and early adopters," AT&T said in a statement when questioned about the cap by Light Reading. "But just as important, this doesn't limit AT&T from introducing faster speeds in the future."

To be clear, AT&T still is not selling 5G+ services, capped or uncapped, to regular people; the operator's service has been confined to "select" customers including business users since AT&T turned on the network late last year.

This isn't the first time AT&T has arbitrarily capped users' speeds. For example, AT&T limits speeds on its Cricket prepaid service to 8Mbit/s on LTE.

But the operator has heralded 5G as "whole new kind of network" and "the new industrial revolution," so it's unclear why AT&T sees the need to arbitrarily limit 5G speeds. Even if they're pretty fast speeds.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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