AT&T keeps its promise — 5G by the end of the year

Looks like they’ll do it. I told you at the beginning of the year that AT&T was committed to rolling out 5G by the end of 2018. They didn’t just want to roll out 5G to the home. No, they have been talking about 5G cell connections that you can use anywhere in the 12 cities that have been selected for the rollout. And sure as shooting, they’re close to doing it.

Dan Jones over at Light Reading gives us a bit of information on how it’s going to go down. The first device won’t be a phone. I think we all knew that would be the case. A few weeks ago I told you that there was only one 5G phone even close to market-ready. It looks like the first 5G device will be a mobile hotspot that will give superfast internet to any device. You’ll be able to connect to it over Wi-Fi and get the fastest internet your phone can handle.

How fast will 5G be?

That’s the real question, isn’t it? In closed testing, 5G service has routinely gotten up to about 1,000 megabits per second. That’s 25 times faster than the top speed you’ll see in the world right now. It’s hard to know if that will translate out to the real world. There are some limitations.

Millimeter waves mean lots of towers

AT&T’s 5G implementation is expected to use “millimeter wave” transmission up above the 25GHz range. At that range, signals lose power quickly. This has led some naysayers to claim that you’ll need a tower every 6 feet for 5G. I don’t think it’s that bad but I do think you’ll need to be much closer to a tower in order to get good 5G data. I wouldn’t be surprised if you needed to be within 1,000 feet, where you really only need to be within 1.5 miles for today’s cellular.

So you may get good 5G in areas where they’ve put in a lot of towers, but it’s hard to know where those are. And, it’s hard to know how that’s going to translate out to a moving vehicle where you could be switching cell towers every 30 seconds.

Today’s phones can’t hack it.

The hardware in your phone isn’t fast enough to handle really high speeds. It’s designed to be energy efficient not incredibly fast. If you have a media server or wireless hard drive at home you can test the top speed of your phone by transferring a file over your home network. Chances are the phone itself can only manage 50-75 megabits per second at the top end. That phone may connect at 1,000 megabits per second but the computer inside it can’t run that fast.

Of course new phones will have newer chips that can handle the higher speeds, but that’s in the future.

How much will it cost?

At this point we don’t know that. As with all technologies it will start out expensive and get cheaper.

When 5G is ready, Solid Signal will be there.

When you’re ready to make the leap to 5G using AT&T’s network, Solid Signal will be ready for you. Give us a call at 877.312.4547 and our qualified technicians will help you find the 5G or cellular solution that works best for you!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.