AT&T’s Faux 5G Network To Service 20 Metro Areas By Year’s End And Support Galaxy S8

AT&T is putting the word out that it is "creating a 5G network that will change the world," only it's not really a 5G network. It is more like a rebranded 4G network that AT&T is calling 5G Evolution, a fancy marketing term that is supposed to make customers think of real 5G, the next generation successor to 4G LTE that will offer significantly faster speeds than what is available today.

To be fair, that's also the pitch from AT&T—the company says its 5G Evolution network "offers twice the speeds" of its 4G LTE network, at least in Austin, Texas. And that may very well be true, but make no mistake, 5G Evolution is not the same as 5G no matter how much AT&T wants customers to think it is. Even worse, it is intentionally confusing and misleading.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Luismt94)

Here is the thing, 5G is not real yet. In fact, there is not even an official standard for 5G. Standards bodies such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and 3GPP are still hammering things out. So what exactly is 5G Evolution?

"Customers can expect to see their data speeds increase as we continue to invest in our wireless network by adding small cells and using advanced 5G Evolution achieved through upgrades like carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM and more," AT&T explains.

AT&T is leveraging technologies that are already available as part of the 4G LTE standards (LTE-Advanced and LTE-Advanced Pro) to deliver faster speeds to customers than what they're already getting. And that is great, nobody should criticize AT&T for optimizing its network. But what's crummy is calling this 5G Evolution when nothing about this is related to 5G, which by the way will end up using technologies completely different from today's LTE networks.

In any event, AT&T's fake 5G network is rolling out to Austin, then Indianapolis this summer. It will expand to 20 metro areas by the end of the year, including places such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, and San Francisco, among others. So if you're an AT&T customer who lives in one of those areas and owns a Samsung Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+, you'll enjoy faster speeds. Just not 5G.