AT&T is Rolling Out 5G Foundation to More Than 100 New Markets

AT&T launches 5G technology in Columbus

AT&T launches 5G technology in Columbus

But as AT&T points out, the technology is basically laying out the foundation for actual 5G networks - which the telecom firm hopes to launch in 12 cities by the end of the year.

AT&T announced today an expansion of their 5G Evolution technology to an additional 117 markets across the USA, bringing the total 5G Evolution markets to 141. Historically, the iPhone maker waits until there's a much larger footprint for a new wireless technology, both in the USA and elsewhere. What AT&T has essentially done is utilize things like 4x4 MIMO antennas and 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) to reach speeds that are faster than its current 4G LTE network, and call it 5G Evolution. "5G will provide a wireless experience that is faster, more responsive and more secure for our customers". These devices include the Samsung Galaxy lineup - S8, S9, S8+, S9+, Note8 and S8 Active - as well as the LG V30 and Moto Z Force Edition. The carrier has also added support for LTE-Licensed Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) in parts of three new markets.

The telecom giant also announced new markets for LTE-LAA, a faster type of LTE service that takes advantage of unlicensed spectrum. LTA-AAA can deliver theoretical peak speeds for capable devices of up to one gigabit per second.

According to AT&T, 5G Evolution serves as a "runway" to real 5G.

It is an aggressive roll out for sure, though to be clear, 5G Evolution is not the same thing as true 5G.

In the meantime, AT&T is playing loosey-goosey with the 5G label for what is really an enhanced 4G LTE network. AT&T plans to launch real 5G later this year in a dozen markets, including Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas.

Virtualization and SDN are key to this vision.

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