AT&T has recently taken a lot of flak for the misleading 5G “Evolution” it has put on smartphones but that doesn’t mean it isn’t actually making headway in well, the evolution of 5G networks. There might still be some marketing involved here but when it announced that its 5G network is the first to surpass the 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) threshold, it is very, very serious. If anything, it lays the foundation of a 5G network that will deliver those sweet promises later this year.
AT&T was in a rush to be the one to call dibs on rolling out a 5G network to parts of the public but that haste cost it a lot. The actual speeds that testers experienced were no better than 4G LTE and it seemed that the carrier had been stringing its customers all along. That, however, may be due to technical limitations that AT&T knew it would come up against as an early adopter.
The carrier’s first 5G service was practically limited to a 100 MHz carrier, not significantly higher than the fastest 4G connection. That was partly because the early version of the 5G standard was also limited to some extent. A revision was approved December last year and that opened the data floodgates almost literally.
That was due to a technology already used by LTE networks: carrier aggregation. AT&T aggregated four 100 MHz carriers and, using a NETGEAR Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot, was able to achieve the first 1 Gbps connection on a mobile 5G network. That, says AT&T, can let you download a two-hour HD movie in 20 seconds.
Of course, that’s still all in-house and it will take time before both equipment and service become available to the general public. At least when 5G does rollout to a wider audience later this year, consumers will at least be getting “real” 5G speeds, or at least better than 4G.