If you are itching to be one of the first on the block with 5G wireless connectivity, AT&T is getting ready to turn on its network in a few select cities. Unlike Verizon's 5G service, which is using proprietary technology -- at least initially -- AT&T says that its 5G network is "standards-based".
At the moment, there is only one device that is certified for use on AT&T's 5G network, and that's the Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot. This little device will allow your notebook, tablet, or any other Wi-Fi capable device to hop on AT&T's network and enjoy the faster data speeds and incredibly low latency. Unfortunately, AT&T isn't giving us any concrete details on how fast download and upload speeds will be, but there should be a considerable increase over existing 4G LTE networks.
So, beginning this Friday, AT&T's 5G service will be available in the following markets: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio and Waco, Texas. That footprint will expand during the first half of 2019 with the addition of the following cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.
When it comes to the all-important aspect of pricing, AT&T will offer the Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot for free to "select" customers and businesses. On top of that, AT&T will be providing 5G data at no cost for at least 90 days.
“We expect that our initial adopters will be innovative, growing businesses, said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer for AT&T Business. They’re the starting point for what we think will be a technology revolution like we’ve never seen before.”
However, once this limited phase of "trial testing" is completed, regular AT&T customers will be able to purchase the hotspot for $499 upfront (there is no mention of installment plans) with a service cost of $70 per month for 15GB of data.
Yes, you heard that right, $70 for a single line of 5G data. That's comparable to pricing for today's unlimited 4G LTE plans, but you're only getting 15GB of data here. On top of that, given the higher speeds that AT&T is promising with 5G, you're likely to hit that 15GB cap in rapid fashion. If you’re looking to be an early adopter of 5G, be prepared to pay through the nose not only for hardware, but also the actual service.
AT&T says that it will be offering its first 5G smartphone this spring, and it will be manufactured by Samsung.