It was right around a year ago when AT&T trumpeted plans to expand its '5G Evolution' network to 20 metro areas before flipping the calendar to 2018. That number has since ballooned, with AT&T today announcing the launch of 5G Evolution connectivity in parts of 117 new markets, bringing the total number of markets served with that technology to 141.
"We’re building a 5G network that will fundamentally change the way the world lives and works," said Melissa Arnoldi, president of Technology & Operations. "5G will provide a wireless experience that is faster, more responsive and more secure for our customers."
It is an aggressive roll out for sure, though to be clear, 5G Evolution is not the same thing as true 5G. In fact, a finalized 5G standard does not even exist yet, even though we a pretty good idea of what it entail. What AT&T has essentially done is utilize things like 4x4 MIMO antennas and 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) to reach speeds that are faster than its current 4G LTE network, and call it 5G Evolution.
True 5G is still faster—potentially much faster—and will use a different technology. Interestingly enough, AT&T could be the first wireless carrier in the US to launch true 5G service in a dozen markets later this year, as the company announced in January.
"5G will change the way we live, work and enjoy entertainment," said Melissa Arnoldi, president, AT&T Technology and Operations. "We’re moving quickly to begin deploying mobile 5G this year and start unlocking the future of connectivity for consumers and businesses. With faster speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video and more."
In the meantime, AT&T is playing loosey-goosey with the 5G label for what is really an enhanced 4G LTE network. As part of that, AT&T says it plans to make 5G Evolution available in over 500 markets later this year. That means there is a good chance you will see 5G Evolution advertised in or near where you live in the coming months.
Thumbnail and Top Image Source: Wikimedia Commons via Luismt94