With T-Mobile having flipped the switch on its nationwide 5G network and Sprint and Verizon’s 5G service available in 10 or more cities, AT&T is now following suit and closing out 2019 by turning on real 5G in 10 cities of its own.
It’s somewhat frustrating that it’s even necessary to clarify the difference between AT&T’s newly deployed 5G coverage and other aspects of the company’s network, but because of AT&T’s confusing 5G branding, here we are.
Similar to T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G, AT&T’s new 5G coverage is a true 5G network (as opposed to 5GE which is actually just 4GLTE+ with a different icon) based on the low-band wireless spectrum. The use of low-band spectrum for 5G is designed to prioritize range and signal penetration as opposed to mmWave 5G (which AT&T calls 5G+), which typically offers much higher data speeds in exchange for more limited coverage.
Unlike other parts of AT&T’s 5G coverage, 5G service in these 10 new cities are actually available to both business users and the average consumer, though you will need a new phone, in this case, a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G in order to actually access the network.
The 10 cities covered by AT&T’s new 5G coverage are:
- Birmingham, Ala.
- Los Angeles
- Providence, R.I.
- Rochester, N.Y.
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Jose, Calif
AT&T says this list of cities is actually an extension of the five cities that AT&T previously announced were getting 5G coverage at the end of November, and that because 5G deployment was ahead of schedule, the company was able to increase the number of 5G cities to 10.
But before you get too excited about 5G possibly being available in your area, you’ll want to check AT&T’s 5G coverage maps for a better idea if you’re really covered or not.
Looking further out, AT&T says that it’s still on pace to expand its 5G network to another batch of cities in the first half of 2020 including, Boston, New York City, Las Vegas, Buffalo, and Bridgeport, CT, while also adding to its mmWave 5G coverage (aka 5G+) in additional locations.
However, just like with 5G announcements from other carriers, unless you are a true bleeding edge 5G enthusiast, I’d caution that it’s still a bit too early to invest in a 5G phone. Carriers still have a lot to do when it comes to building out their 5G networks, and with a new batch of 5G phones slated to arrive this spring and early summer, there’s a good chance phone hardware will get some major improvements (especially when it comes to energy efficiency) between now and then.