Erica Flores

AT&T has 5G service in 19 cities, but still …

The state of 5G remains a disaster as large U.S. telecommunications companies compete with each other by being the first to deploy versions of the next-generation network technology across the country. AT&T now has 19 cities with 5G service as of today, but once again there is a big caveat: there are no smartphones that can use it yet. Also, the only true 5G device available from AT&T, a mobile hotspot it offers, cannot yet be purchased in stores.

The only two 5G smartphones to be available to US customers so far this year are the Verizon-exclusive Samsung Galaxy S10, which doesn’t even have a firm release date, and the Verizon-exclusive LG V50 and Sprint. (Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is supposed to come in a 5G version as well, but no announcement from the airline yet.) That hasn’t stopped AT&T from using this mindless, arbitrary milestone as a marketing opportunity. “There are now 19 cities across the country where AT&T is the only provider offering 5G mobile services to businesses and consumers, long before our competition,” the company’s press release reads.

AT&T is promising its customers that it will have access to the 5G variant of the S10 later this spring, as well as another 5G smartphone from Samsung later this year that we can only assume right now refers to the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 10. or a newer one. variant of the S10 that supports the mmWave and sub-6 spectrum, thanks to Qualcomm’s new X55 chipset.

5G is a confusing mess, and AT&T and Verizon are making it worse

But until that point, the only device that can access your network is the Netgear Nighthawk 5G access point. The device is only available to select business partners and some customers in their early 5G markets, but not in stores. Not only that, but even if you, as a regular customer, wanted to buy it without going through AT & T’s trial program, which requires registration and selection, it would cost $ 500. The access point contains the Qualcomm X50 chip, which means which only supports the short range, mmWave 5G on the AT&T network. Presumably AT&T plans to launch an updated hotspot with the X55 later this year, said to back both with more extensive coverage. (The X50 hardware is compatible with mmWave and sub-6 at this time, but not on the AT&T network architecture as it is currently designed.)

AT&T is far from alone in muddying the 5G waters. Verizon may have the first commercial 5G phone as exclusive to its network, but the company’s rollout in 5G is far less robust than AT & T’s. While AT&T rolled out 5G in 12 cities late last year, Verizon has only just started offering its version of the service in “select areas” of Chicago and Minneapolis.

The edge We went to the metropolis of Illinois last week to test it ourselves, and while the speeds were blazingly fast, the coverage was terribly bad. You can also access it using the mid-range Motorola Moto Z3 with the 5G Moto Mod. Similarly, Verizon only relies on the short-range mmWave spectrum, so you need to be physically close to one of its 5G nodes in the center. from Chicago to access it. Walk around the corner or put a hard, non-glass surface between you and the node, and you’ll likely return to LTE.

So both companies’ 5G strategies are a marketing disaster right now, and they surely lead to some confusion. 5G will undoubtedly reach some point in the next two years, with smartphones with 5G modems adequate to meet the standard and deliver the promised high speeds. But so far, AT&T and Verizon are racing each other to the finish of a race that only the two companies care about. Meanwhile, we as customers are stuck with silly tactics like the AT&T 5G E imposed logo which, if you remember, is not really real 5G, but another gimmick meant to make AT&T look like it has reached the future faster than your company. rival.