First actual 5G networks ready for consumers

The image is a slide titled "5G Update" and is divided into four columns, each with a different heading and bullet points:

1. **5G Foundation**:
   - Fiber passing ~22M units
     - 14M Consumer by mid '19
     - 8M Business
   - 400+ 5G Evolution Cities in 2018
   - LTE-LAA in 24 Cities by EOY

2. **5G Introduction**:
   - Completed 5G trials in multiple cities since 2016
   - Introducing mobile 5G in parts of 12 cities in 2018
     - 7 additional by early 2019
   - Starting on path to nationwide mobile 5G

3. **The Network of the Future**:
   - Software driven
   - Edge computing
   - Ultra-low latency
   - Working with developers on new applications

4. **Reliability**:
   - The Best Network according to the nation’s largest test
   - Nearly 50% increase in spectrum deployed by end of 2019 vs 2016
   - Strong performance during recent storms

At the bottom of the slide, there are footnotes and a copyright notice from AT&T Intellectual Property, along with the AT&T logo in the bottom right corner.
Source: AT&T earnings report, 10/25/2018

For several years, mobile phone networks used the term 5G as their “shiny new thing” – something cool to dangle in front of customers long before anyone had actually settled on what it actually meant.

Both AT&T and Verizon are now ready to turn on their first pieces of 5G coverage, and T-Mobile/Sprint (if that ever becomes a thing) has settled on a company to build their 5G network for a Q1 2019 launch. Of course, coverage isn’t worth anything without devices, so several phone makers have actually announced their initial 5G handsets.

Suddenly 5G is sounding like a real thing… For those of us who consider themselves roadwarriors, could 5G finally put an end to relying on lousy hotel Wi-Fi, spotty 4G or broken plugs in the business center?. Actual 5G speeds are hard to get from the networks, Verizon is especially tight-lipped, forecasting “data transfer rates many times faster than a blink of an eye” (real quote).

The depressing reality behind these announcements is service is being installed one city at a time, just like we saw when the first 3G and 4G networks were turned on. But 5G brings one more complication, and that is mostly due to something called “millimeter wave”. All you really need to know about millimeter waves is that they are really, really hard to get from a base station to a phone. Because of this, the initial roll-out is focusing more on getting high speed internet to home users. Both AT&T and Verizon see their initial 5G roll-out as something to put up against companies like Comcast/Xfinity. This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever see gigabit speeds on our mobile devices – the first gigabit capable devices are already out there, and current LTE networks have the ability to supply the bandwidth, but this is still based off 4G technology. It’ll be at least 2020 till we can download a 4K movie in 30 seconds on our phones.




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