AT&T Increases 5G Service to More Cities, but Will It Matter?

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AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will increase the number of cities that will get super-fast 5G wireless service to six. The 5G deployments, which all four major carriers plan to roll out over the next several years, are nearly as important as the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, to hear some industry leaders talk. He also founded the original American Telephone & Telegraph a year later.

The huge phone company announced:

AT&T plans to begin introducing mobile 5G to customers in a dozen cities this year, and today we’re adding Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. and Oklahoma City as the next three identified cities for our buildout. These cities will join our previously announced cities of Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco.

Really large cities are notably absent.

5G deployments will replace the current 4G generation of wireless technology used by most of the over 300 million Americans who have a wireless phone. The rule of thumb is that 5G technology is 20 times faster than 4G. The speed does not help voice services or texts, which are primary uses of wireless phones and computers. But 5G also will allow people to download video at blazing speed, which is among its primary benefits. However, the universe of people who use video downloads and want the fast process may be very limited.

Regardless of cost, AT&T and rivals Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), T-Mobile US Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) have started to use 5G deployment as a way to steal customers from one another. The wireless market in the United States is so saturated that very few people do not already have service. All four have begun the multibillion investments for deployment, and hundreds of millions of more will go into marketing.

Another opportunity for both the wireless carriers and smartphone companies is upgrades to new devices that are compatible with 5G. That is if anyone wants them.

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