In a press release today, the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier AT&T announced that it is switching on 5G service in seven new cities: Austin, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN; Orlando, FL; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; and San Jose, CA.
With these seven new locations, AT&T now boasts 5G service in a total of 19 cities across the United States.
However, 5G service only works in “parts” of those 19 locations, and AT&T doesn’t provide a coverage map for which parts. Additionally, there is no commercial AT&T smartphone capable of connecting to 5G services and the 5G hotspot the company launched late last year isn’t easy (or maybe even impossible) to get.
In other words, AT&T is promoting a powerful network that none of its customers can access.
Granted, a 5G smartphone from AT&T is imminent: the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is expected to land on the carrier at some point in the next few months. There might be another smartphone to launch shortly after, too, although we have no solid information on that. It will be nice to know that when a 5G-capable device does hit AT&T, it will be able to access 5G service in at least some very specific areas of the country right out of the box.
However, it’s hard not to assume that AT&T’s promotion of this network expansion is simply grandstanding, which our own Eric Zeman chastises as childish in his op-ed piece on the matter.
As we get further into 2019, we can expect more news like this to surface from all four carriers. Strap in for the ride, everyone.