How are businesses using AT&T’s 5G service?
While its standards-based mobile 5G network is currently available in parts of 12 markets, AT&T this week detailed both near- and long-term expansion plans with the goal of providing nationwide coverage by 2020.
On Dec. 21, AT&T turned up service in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, San Antonio and Waco. That footprint will grow to include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose in the first half of this year with 5G NR also set to come to Chicago and Minneapolis. AT&T said the plan is to offer nationwide mobile 5G by “early 2020.”
AT&T is currently the only carrier with a standards-based 5G service. Chief competitor Verizon is selling a fixed wireless 5G Home broadband service in parts of four markets. That network is based on Verizon’s Technical Forum standard rather than NR, although the carrier has made clear it will upgrade to equipment based on 3GPP’s standard.
“We delivered on one of the most ambitious goals in our industry by being the first in the U.S. with live commercial mobile 5G,” Jeff McElfresh, president of AT&T Technology Operations, said in a statement. “2018 was a year of rapid R&D, testing and deployment as our people rolled out 5G within months of the final 3GPP standard being set—going from an 18 month cycle to same-year deployment. And now we’re going to begin making this 5G vision come to life further for businesses and consumers.”
In New Orleans, Deep South Studios was the first business customer to explore how it can leverage AT&T’s 5G offering. Company EVP Mick Flannigan, in an interview with RCR Wireless News, explained that the studio is using 5G both internally and has a plan to offer it up as a product to clients.
Flannigan said, “Wireless connectivity is really everything in our industry in terms of people really just don’t want to wire things anymore. Nobody is plugging in anymore.”
Right now Deep South Studios is using a 5G mobile hot spot to test transferring of large video files, and will offer it up to clients that come into its facility as an alternative to Wi-Fi or LTE.
“We’ve been testing and so far it’s been great. There’s a notice speed improvement. Our needs are typically met by our [AT&T-provided] fiber Wi-Fi connection but we want to offer as many products as we can. In this industry we all love the bleeding edge.”
AT&T launched its 5G NR service with the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, which supports millimeter wave connections. The carrier has plans to offer up handsets throughout 2019. In its existing 5G markets, AT&T is working with “select businesses and consumers” to provide the device and service at no cost for “at least 90 days. Next spring, customers will be able to get the Nighthawk for $499 upfront and 15 GB of data for $70 a month on a compatible plan and no annual commitment.”