AT&T Launches First Mobile 5G Service For Select Businesses, Consumers


The race to the 5G finish line has been on since the official 5G standard was finalized in June, and on Tuesday AT&T said it's the first and only carrier to offer a mobile 5G service and device over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.

AT&T's standards-based mobile 5G network is live today in certain areas of 12 cities for consumers and select businesses, including; Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio and Waco, Texas.

[Related: 5G Opportunity No Longer Just 'Hype And Hyperbole' For Solution Providers]

Many early 5G services have been directed at consumers, but the wait may be over for solution providers and business users eagerly awaiting the next iteration of wireless technology that promises ultra-reliable speeds as much as 1,000 times faster than 4G.

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"[These businesses] are the starting point for what we think will be a technology revolution like we've never seen before," Mo Katibeh, AT&T's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

AT&T's latest 5G service uses mmWave spectrum, which provides a faster mobile experience compared to standard LTE. Users outside of the 5G+ network coverage will still be able to access 5G in 385 markets using NETGEAR Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot technology, the carrier said.

AT&T said it will offer select businesses and consumers its first mobile 5G device plus 5G data usage at no cost for 90 days beginning December 21. In spring 2019, users can buy Nighthawk for $499 upfront and 15GB of data for $70 a month on a compatible plan and no annual commitment.

The carrier did not disclose a timeline in which 5G services will be available through the channel. A spokesperson for the company told CRN that AT&T will be initially communicating directly with businesses in the mobile 5G areas to educate them on the power of 5G and invite them into this initial offer.

"We do have limited availability, so the channel program will eventually come on line as the network matures and inventory increases," the spokesperson said.

AT&T's vice president of enterprise mobility product management Robert Boyanovsky said in October that 5G will represent a "huge opportunity" for the channel over the next few years.

Verizon, AT&T's Basking Ridge, N.J.-based competitor, in October pushed what it called "the world's first" commercial 5G service live in four cities: Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, Calif. The service, Verizon 5G Home, offers speeds of up to 1 Gb and no data caps. The service, according to Verizon, is built on the open 5G TF network standard, which is different from the official 5G standard that was finalized in June by 3GPP, the international organization that oversees cellular standards.

Dallas-based AT&T isn't slowing down with its 5G strategy. AT&T plans on deploying its mobile 5G service in parts of seven additional cities during the first half of 2019, including in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.