AT&T Low-band 5G Network Expands Into New Markets


By Catherine Sbeglia 

AT&T has reportedly pledged to provide a nationwide low-band 5G network by the first half of 2020.

As 2020 begins, AT&T can officially lay claim to 20 cities where its low-band 5G network is available. While the carrier has had a 5G network for close to a year now, the service was previously made available only via hot spots exclusively to business clients. However, AT&T’s initial consumer launch took place in mid-December and included 10 cities, and recently, the carrier added another 10 cities to the rapidly growing list.

The most recent wave of deployments include Bridgeport, Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; Louisville; Boston; Baltimore; Detroit; Las Vegas; Buffalo, New York; New York City; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Unlike AT&T’s 5G network for business clients, which uses millimeter wave frequencies to provide faster speeds, the commercial variety is low-band 5G and uses a portion of the carrier’s 850 MHz spectrum. Low-band 5G will rely on the same airwaves that LTE has used, and while it won’t quite hit the super-fast speeds made possible with large swathes of mmWave spectrum, it will have better penetration and coverage characteristics.

Consumer customers need Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G to access the carrier’s low-band 5G service. Further, because the device is priced at US$1,300, and because users are required to have one of AT&T’s recent Unlimited Extra or Elite data plans to utilize the 5G network, the new next-gen offering may remain a premium service for some time.

AT&T has also been expanding its mmWave footprint, adding parts of Baltimore, Pennsylvania and West Hollywood to its coverage maps, bringing its total count of areas with mmWave to 25 cities.

AT&T is the fourth, and last, of the major carriers to begin offering 5G to consumers. Verizon’s 5G mmWave network, first launched in April, now includes 31 cities and 15 NFLS stadiums. T-Mobile turned on its low-band 5G for 200 million people nationwide in early December. Sprint, meanwhile, has forged ahead with nine cities under its 5G belt.

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