Though it’s probably going to be quite some time before we see 5G networks that are as easily accessible as today’s 4G LTE networks, AT&T is ready to get the ball moving. The company today announced its plans to begin rolling out mobile 5G by the end of this year. We have the 3GPP’s recent completion of some 5G new radio standards to thank for this move, which were defined back at the end of December.
Because 3GPP was able to define those standards well ahead of schedule, AT&T is ready to start developing mobile 5G networks for launch in late 2018. For consumers, this means that we’ll see AT&T roll out mobile 5G service in a dozen markets by the end of the year, but AT&T doesn’t name those markets in its announcement today. It looks like we’ll just have to wait for more information on that front.
Obviously, the arrival of 5G means much faster internet speeds than current 4G LTE networks allow. AT&T doesn’t focus on just that in announcing this 5G launch today, choosing to talk more about the effects this will have on latency instead. With latency decreased thanks to faster 5G speeds, AT&T sees a future where edge computing is commonplace on mobile phones, moving power-hungry apps into the cloud so you can get the best of both worlds when it comes to running intensive apps while at the same time enjoying battery life.
AT&T says that it expects to be the first carrier to offer mobile 5G, that may be more of a hope than anything else. Though Sprint and T-Mobile won’t have their own 5G networks ready for debut until we’re beyond 2018, Verizon is working on bringing 5G-based home broadband internet to consumers sometime this year. It stands to reason that it’s also working on mobile 5G now that 3GPP has decided on a set of standards.
Of course, just because AT&T will have mobile 5G in a handful of markets by the end of the year doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be able to use it right away. We’ll need to wait on manufacturers to start offering 5G-capable phones before we can tap into the faster speeds that 5G promises. Still, the news that AT&T expects to have mobile 5G up and running by the end of the year is certainly a reason to look forward to the future, so stay tuned.