AT&T will launch its 5G network for consumers in December

AT&T is one of the biggest wireless network providers in the United States, and today the company confirmed that it will finally get its real 5G network up and running before the end of 2019.

On Friday, AT&T confirmed that it will launch its true mobile 5G network for consumers in the middle of December. Specifically, it will coincide with the public launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, which can be pre-ordered by AT&T customers starting on Monday, November 25.

It starts at $1,300 and AT&T expects the launch of its consumer 5G network to go live “in the first half of December”.

5G from AT&T will be available in five different cities in the U.S.: Indianapolis, Indiana; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; Rochester, Minneapolis; and San Diego, California, according to The Verge. An additional ten cities will rollout support for 5G in the near future, including Boston, Massachusetts; New York, New York; and San Francisco, California, among others. The big blue network says it will have nationwide 5G coverage before the end of the first half of 2020.

There’s a caveat to be aware of, though:

At launch the network will not offer the fastest type of 5G connections, millimeter wave (mmWave), which use faster airwaves to deliver much faster data speeds. Instead, AT&T will only offer “low-band” 5G, which essentially uses newer technology to bundle together LTE-like spectrum into a much faster connection. (For those of you who care about airwave specifics, AT&T will be using a portion of its 850 Mhz spectrum.)

Expect AT&T’s initial 5G speeds to be “comparable” to LTE-Advanced, which is basically just a slightly speedier version of 4G LTE that’s already being used by multiple carriers. However, that’s how things are starting, because AT&T says speeds will be improving from there.

The other big thing to be aware of is if you want to access AT&T’s 5G network you will need to subscribe to either the Unlimited Extra or Unlimited Elite plans, which retail for $75 or $85 per month, per line.

And as noted in the original report, I feel like I should just call AT&T out here because their rollout of 5G is . . . worth calling out. That started with “5G E”, that thing you might remember as being shorthand branding for “5G Evolution”. This is not 5G, but is instead AT&T’s upgraded LTE efforts.

And now AT&T has 5G, but it doesn’t feature the faster mmWave technology mentioned above. That’s where 5G+ comes in! Because that does feature mmWave technology and actually be a 5G connection worth using.

5G+ is available in parts of 21 cities across the United States, and it’s accessible via either the Samsung Galaxy s10 5G (available to only businesses and developers right now) or a dedicated mobile hotspot that AT&T started selling earlier this year. 5G+ will eventually expand to 30 cities sometime in the early stages of next year.

Customers who buy the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G won’t be able to access that 5G+ network, though, because that phone doesn’t support the wireless technology.

AT&T is the last of the four major wireless networks to launch 5G accessible handset(s) to consumers. Verizon kicked things off earlier this year, and Sprint went live back in May of this year. And T-Mobile’s 5G network has been available for a bit of time, too, with a huge expansion already in the works.

So you might be asking where Apple falls into all of this. Well, right now, the company doesn’t. However! The good news is that, like with many other things Apple does, it decided not to be first with a 5G iPhone. But that doesn’t mean one isn’t coming at all. Rumors have been pointing to a 5G iPhone launch in 2020 for months now, and that still feels like it’s a strong possibility to happen. The good news here is that, by then, 5G access will hopefully be more robust from all the networks.

Are you looking forward to getting 5G speeds on your iPhone sometime in the near future?