Commercial 5G launch using low-band spectrum
While AT&T has had a 5G network for close to a year now, the service has only been made available via hot spots exclusively to business clients. However, next month, the carrier will officially launch its full next-gen network to consumers across Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rochester and San Diego. Following the first round of launches, the carrier plans to expand to 10 more with nationwide coverage coming in the first half of 2020.
Unlike AT&T’s current 5G network, which uses millimeter wave frequencies to provide faster speeds, the commercial variety will be “ow-band 5G, using a portion of the carrier’s 850 MHz spectrum. Low-band 5G will rely on the same airwaves that LTE has used, and won’t quite hit the blazing speeds that are possible when large swathes of mmWave spectrum are in play — but it will have better penetration and coverage characteristics.
Beginning Monday, commercial users will be able to pre-order AT&T’s flagship 5G phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G, for $1,300. While this will be the first phone capable of taking advantage of AT&T’s low-band 5G offering, it is important to note that it won’t be able to tap into the mmWave network already turned on in parts of 21 cities.
However, according to AT&T, devices capable of using both mmWave and low-band 5G are expected to be available next year.
AT&T is the fourth, and last, of the major carriers to begin offering 5G to consumers. Verizon launched in April and has since expanded to 18 cities. Sprint is hanging in there with nine cities under its 5G belt.
T-Mobile has launched mmWave in a few cities, and in what appears to be in direct competition with AT&T, will also be launching low-band coverage next month. T-Mobile has promised to begin a nationwide low-band 5G network on Dec. 6th on 600MHz across two phones, the Samsung Note 10 and the OnePlus 7T 5G McLaren.
T-Mobile also claimed its 5G network won’t cost extra. But unfortunately for AT&T customers, getting more speed will cost more money. AT&T has added two new plans in preparation for its new networks, Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Elite. The price of a single line of Extra will start at $75 per month, and $85 for Elite.