AT&T said it would roll out a real 5G network in a dozen cities in 2018, and now we know the next three cities on the carrier’s list: Charlotte, Raleigh, and Oklahoma City will get the 5G treatment.
The three cities join the previously announced rollout in Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco that AT&T began in February, and the new additions should help AT&T stay on track for its 12-city goal. AT&T explained that it’s rolling out in smaller cities because it feels that “all Americans should have access to next-gen connectivity to avoid a new digital divide.” It’s also a clear shot back at T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray who thumbed his nose at AT&T’s choice of smaller cities a few months ago when announcing T-Mobile’s plans for 5G, saying, “Why are we in New York and not Waco? Because New York matters.”
It’s also important to note that these six cities are the ones with AT&T’s actual, 3GPP-standards based 5G NR (New Radio) network. While AT&T may boast that it offers its “5G Evolution” network in 140 markets, it’s really just rebranded and remarketed LTE technologies, not true 5G.
Of course, none of this actually matters yet: as of now, there are no 5G phones or devices that users can actually buy. But given the glacial pace that networking rollouts arrive, it’s good that AT&T is starting to get the ball rolling now.