Opensignal tipped AT&T to launch 5G service in nine specific cities in the coming months, claiming analysis of the operator’s spectrum recycling efforts allowed it to predict where coverage will be deployed next.
Between December 2019 and February, the mobile analytics company noted AT&T reduced its 850MHz spectrum usage in 48 cities, with the operator subsequently launching 5G in 37 of them. If the trend holds, Opensignal expects launches in Springfield (two cities in the states of Massachusetts and Missouri); Portsmouth; Syracuse; Harrisburg; Huntsville; Lexington; Fayetteville; and Reno.
AT&T offers 5G on mmWave and low-band spectrum. Since December 2019, it worked steadily to expand the latter’s the footprint, with 80 cities covered by early March as it moves to achieve nationwide coverage in Q2.
Operator executives previously told Mobile World Live its low-band deployment would use recycled 3G and 4G spectrum in the 850MHz and 1.9GHz bands.
In a blog, Opensignal noted AT&T began turning off 10MHz chunks of 4G spectrum in the 850MHz band in select markets in November 2019, before later launching 5G service in those locations.
It observed there is “usually a gap of a few weeks, or even a month or two, between the operator clearing the spectrum” and a subsequent 5G debut.
Opensignal noted availability of new mid-band spectrum and technologies including dynamic spectrum sharing will eventually reduce the need for operators to recycle spectrum already in use, making future predictions harder.-Mobile World Live