The world was able to experience 5G systems during the Olympics in South Korea. One of the world’s most advanced nations in terms of broadband distribution showed off the ultra-fast wireless speeds. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has begun its plans to bring the same technology to the United States, deploying it in three cities for a start.
AT&T announced it would be first to market in the United States with 5G technology. Management wrote:
2018 will be the year you can experience mobile 5G from AT&T.
We plan to offer mobile 5G to customers in a dozen cities, including parts of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas, by the end of this year. We’ll announce additional cities in the coming months.
This is standards-based, mobile 5G we’re talking about. AT&T is the only U.S. carrier that’s announced plans to deliver this ground-breaking technology to its customers in 2018.
Among other things, the announcement means that competitors Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint will need to launch their own 5G networks. That will speed the rate at which 5G will spread across the country. To that end, AT&T plans to stay well out in front of competition:
We’re on the most aggressive network virtualization path that we know of in our industry. We plan to virtualize 75% of our network by 2020. Our goal in 2017 was 55%, and we hit that mark.
The speed of the system will be “multiple gigabits per second.” That is about 10 times faster than most 4G networks, which are the wireless broadband standard today.
While Waco is not a large market, Dallas is the fourth largest metropolitan statistical area by population, and Atlanta holds the ninth place. AT&T has apparently built the capacity to deliver 5G to a large number of customers.
5G has the potential to recreate how wireless broadband is used, disrupting wireline and satellite technology. The three-city rollout of AT&T’s 5G is a critical start to a change in the way people use smart devices. South Korea is no longer the only country that can brag about the use of the technology.