AT&T Inc will launch a fifth-generation mobile service in a dozen cities in the United States by late 2018, it said on Thursday, after international wireless standards for the network were finalized last month.
5G is expected to provide higher speeds, more capacity and lower response times than 4G LTE, as well as support uses such as autonomous cars. AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier, did not disclose the 12 locations or how large the 5G coverage area would be in each market. The service will work only on 5G capable mobile devices.
“Any implementation we do here will start off very controlled,” Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer, said in an interview. He said that AT&T will launch the mobile service using information it is already collecting in trials for a new 5G broadband service, where the last leg of Internet connection is delivered via a radio signal to a home or business using wireless spectrum known as millimeter wave.
The company has said it expects deployment of that service as early as late 2018. Verizon Communications Inc is launching a similar service in three to five markets in 2018. Industry analysts consider 5G mobile service to be a bigger revenue opportunity for wireless carriers than broadband. T-Mobile US Inc has also said it is targeting nationwide 5G coverage by 2020.