AT&T has big plans for the 2020 expansion of its 5G network and phone lineup
5G switch last month in a measly 10 cities, but the immediate goal is to cover no less than 200 million people with an advanced network enabling higher download speeds and lower latency "by the summer." As impressive as that sounds, it's worth keeping in mind that T-Mobile launched America's first "nationwide 5G network" more than a month ago, claiming to cover, you guessed it, "more than 200 million people", as well as more than 1 million square miles.America's second-largest wireless service provider only flipped the low-band
Unlike Verizon, which insists its 5G rollout based exclusively on mmWave technology is the "right" way to embrace the cellular future, AT&T and T-Mobile are relying primarily on low-band spectrum to lay the foundations of their nationwide next-gen networks. The advantage of the latter technology is that it can be deployed much faster, with a signal capable of penetrating walls easier and covering a lot more ground than millimeter waves. The disadvantage, of course, is speed, as in most cases, this particular flavor of 5G delivers a marginal improvement over the download numbers currently available on 4G LTE networks.
In addition to supplying "standard" 5G service across a grand total of 19 markets right now, AT&T has a mmWave-based 5G+ network up and running as well in "parts of 35 cities." Naturally, the carrier plans to ramp up both its 5G and 5G+ rollouts this year, although Chris Penrose, AT&T's senior VP of Advanced Mobility and Entertainment Solutions, didn't have any big numbers or short-term objectives to share on the latter with the folks over at Cnet in Las Vegas.
What AT&T is ready to promise is that a whopping 15 new 5G-enabled smartphones will be released on the "Now Network" in 2020, joining Samsung's Galaxy Note 10+ 5G. Unlike the Note 10+ 5G, which is only capable of getting a low-band 5G signal on AT&T, most of these 15 unnamed future handsets will apparently be equipped with both 5G and 5G+ support.
Still, Verizon is promising no less than 20 smartphone releases with 5G in tow, and while Big Red isn't naming any manufacturers either, at least it's teasing some very compelling new price points.