AT&T announces mobile 5G in 2018 as Verizon seals fixed 5G deal with Samsung

AT&T says it plans to introduce mobile 5G services into the US before the end of 2018 – and rival operator Verizon says it has picked Samsung as its vendor for fixed 5G.

AT&T insisted that it will use official 5G standards for its services, which it will introduce into “a dozen markets by late 2018”.

“We’re moving quickly to begin deploying mobile 5G this year and start unlocking the future of connectivity for consumers and businesses,” said Melissa Arnoldi, president of AT&T Technology and Operations. “With faster speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video and more.”

The industry’s international standards body, 3GPP, completed key elements of 5G new radio standards in December, pointed out AT&T. “With these specifications now available, hardware, chipset and device manufacturers can start development. This allows us to provide mobile 5G services sooner. We’re confident this latest standards milestone will allow us to bring 5G to market faster without compromising its long-term vision,” said the company.

AT&T said it had laid the foundation during 2017 for what it called 5G Evolution in 23 major metropolitan areas – Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; Chicago; Fresno; Greenville, South Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Louisville; Memphis; Nashville; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Tulsa, Oklahoma and Sacramento, California.

But 5G Evolution is just a souped-up version of existing 4G technology – just as, a decade ago, some US operators used the 4G term for high-speed 3G networks.

Arnoldi did not say which dozen cities would be picked for real mobile 5G.

Meanwhile Verizon has not made any announcement about mobile 5G, but said it has selected Samsung to supply it with commercial 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) technology.

“The two companies will begin by launching commercial 5G services in Sacramento, California in the second half of 2018,” said Samsung.

Ed Chan, Verizon’s chief technology architect, said “The industry has been discussing 5G connectivity for years, and through our joint collaboration with partners like Samsung, we are beginning to make it a reality for our customers. Sacramento is an ideal place to begin deploying 5G broadband services, providing a progressive environment for creating future use cases.”

Samsung is not a new supplier to Verizon: last year the two began 5G customer trials across seven US cities, and they said they have successfully tested and verified 5G performance using millimetre-wave (mmWave) frequency to provide FWA pre-commercial service.

For the Sacramento service, Samsung will provide Verizon with commercial 5G home routers and 5G radio access units.