AT&T’s 5G coverage dominates competition (for now)

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AT&T store2
Verizon is behind arch-rival AT&T in deploying mobile 5G. Sprint and T-Mobile are trailing.
Photo: Steve Rhodes/Flickr CC

Verizon just reveled that Houston will be the third city getting its super-speedy 5G service before the end of this year. But there’s huge caveat: this is fixed service, only for homes and businesses.

In contrast, AT&T will launch mobile 5G service in six cities this year. This shows how far ahead it is than the competition.

Especially when one considers that T-Mobile and Sprint are now busy trying to merge, leaving their 5G plans somewhat up on the air.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said last fall that his company’s mobile 5G service will debut about six months after fixed service. So, at this point it’s looking like 2019.

AT&T 5G, but no 5G iPhone yet

At first, AT&T 5G service will be accessible only through mobile hotspots specially designed for this super-fast data network. This is because there aren’t any smartphones capable of connecting.

A 5G iPhone is in development. Apple has been testing this technology since at least 2017. But when this product will be released probably depends on the wireless carriers. There’s little point in introducing a 5G phone with no 5G network to connect it to.

With AT&T 5G just beginning its rollout this year, Verizon starting next, and the merged T-Mobile/Sprint an open question, Apple might be aiming at 2019. But 2020 seems a safer bet.

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