AT&T's mobile 5G service not off to an impressive start
AT&T launched its 5G mobile service on December 21st when it offered a 90 day free trial to certain consumers and businesses in 12 markets. What the carrier was offering to this select group was its Netgear Nighthawk mobile 5G hotspot, and 5G service. Next spring, the former will be priced at $499 while 15GB of 5G data will cost $70 a month. But for now, AT&T was giving both to trial participants as they tested the service.
Posts on Reddit (via PCMag) from some of those involved in the trial show that the results have not been impressive thus far. One Indianapolis trial member used the Speedtest app and discovered that his 5G download data speed was 194.88Mbps. That sounded impressive until he did a test in the same area using the carrier's 5G Evolution service (which is really not 5G and is equivalent to LTE-A) and found his LTE download connection running at 187.44Mbps. The peak speed available now on AT&T's 5G+ service (true 5G) is 625Mbps, lower than AT&T's LTE-LAA service, offered in very limited markets. The latter can provide peak speeds of 1Gbps.
At left, Speedtest result from AT&T's 5G+ service. At right, result from AT&T's LTE-A service
The 5G testing is currently limited to 12 cities right now (Indianapolis, Louisville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, Waco, Dallas, and Oklahoma City) and will expand to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. in the first half of 2019. While right now AT&T doesn't seem to be giving subscribers much of a reason to buy its 5G mobile hotspot and 5G plan, it is still very, very early. By the time April rolls around, and the carrier starts charging for 5G, speeds could be much higher.