Dallas, Atlanta and Waco win the AT&T 5G jackpot

The cities of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco have been selected by AT&T as the first to receive mobile 5G services by the end of the year.

Jamie Davies

February 21, 2018

3 Min Read
Dallas, Atlanta and Waco win the AT&T 5G jackpot

The cities of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco have been selected by AT&T as the first to receive mobile 5G services by the end of the year.

The move comes after a promise from AT&T that it would deliver 5G to twelve cities across the US. At the time there was no indication what the cities would be (or any real details) and it did appear to be a bit of a panic move from the telco in reaction to 5G claims from competitors, all of which had already made commitments. The confirmation of these three cities is at least progress, but taking two months to unveil 25% of the plan (one of the locations is the home of AT&T HQ, so that should have been a given) doesn’t remove the fears AT&T might be making it up as it goes along.

Meeting the demands of this stringent timeline will be tricky and to help the momentum build AT&T will be opening a new 5G lab in Austin. The purpose of this lab will be to stress test mobile 5G network equipment and devices from multiple vendors, and also features an outdoor 5G testbed to trial 5G applications and usecases.

“After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G – and do it much sooner than most people thought possible,” said Igal Elbaz, SVP of Wireless Network Architecture and Design at AT&T. “Our mobile 5G firsts will put our customers in the middle of it all.”

Irrelevant as to whether AT&T is making it up as it goes, or if it was caught off guard with competitor announcements at the end of the year, it has shot to the front of the 5G race with this announcement. Details are the enemy of marketers and PR gurus but the friend of the customers, and this move from AT&T seems to offer much more clarity than the telcos suspect attempts to seemingly fool customers with LTE-A rebranded as 5G Evolution. 5G is coming and AT&T is now pumping its chest loudly.

What is worth noting is that there won’t be a huge number of 5G capable devices on the market when AT&T launch the networks, though this could have a positive effect on the supply cycle. Perhaps the presence of a 5G network will fuel demand from customers and force the manufacturers to hit the market with devices at an increased pace. This could be the case, though sceptical individuals would argue the manufacturers would simply use 5G capable features as a means to encourage customers to upgrade to more expensive devices. Bottlenecking the breadth of 5G capable devices would almost certainly encourage some users to consider more expensive devices, but should such nefarious strategies start to appear it could potentially open the door for a brand to disrupt the market.

The initial 5G deployment will be based on 3GPP standards and operate over mmWave spectrum, with the telco claiming the services will seamlessly integrate with current LTE technologies using the non-standalone configuration outlined in 3GPP release 15. It should be worth noting that AT&T has not forgotten about the LTE roll out, which is yet to be completed nationwide, but the technology being deployed here will be easily migratable to 5G, the telco has said.

Naming these three cities is certainly a positive step and AT&T has said it will name the other nine over the next couple of months. A good guess at where they might be Houston, Plano or Palo Alto, as these are the other locations of AT&T Foundry (aside from Atlanta), though it would also be worth having a look here where the telco names the cities it is ‘super-charging’ its network over the next couple of months.

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