AT&T boasts about 5G service in 19 cities, but there’s still no phone that can use it

The 5G state is still a disaster, as the large US telecommunications companies. UU They compete with each other as they are the first to implement next generation technology versions of networks across the country. AT & T now has 19 cities with 5G service starting today, but once again there is a big caveat: there are still no smartphones that can use it. In addition, the only true 5G device available from AT & T, a mobile hotspot that offers, still can not be purchased in stores.

The only two 5G smartphones that will be available to US customers. UU So far this year, Verizon's exclusive Samsung Galaxy S10, which does not even have a firm release date, and the exclusive Verizon and Sprint LG V50. (It's supposed that Samsung's Galaxy Fold also comes in a 5G version, but there's still no announcement from the airline). That has not stopped AT & T from using this arbitrary, nonsensical milestone as a marketing opportunity. "There are now 19 cities across the country where AT & T is the only provider that offers 5G mobile services to businesses and consumers, long before our competition," the company's press release said.

AT & T is promising its customers that it will have access to the 5G variant of the S10 later this spring, as well as another Samsung 5G smartphone later this year that we can only assume at this time refers to the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or a newer version of the S10 that supports the mmWave and sub-6 spectrum, thanks to Qualcomm's new X55 chipset.

But until then, the only device that can access your network is the Netgear Nighthawk 5G access point. The device is only available to selected business partners and some customers in their first 5G markets, but not in stores. Not only that, but even if you, as a regular customer, would like to buy it without going through the AT & T test program, which requires registering and being selected, it would cost $ 500. The access point contains the Qualcomm X50 chip, which means that only supports the short range, mmWave 5G in the AT & T network. Presumably, AT & T plans to launch an updated hotspot with the X55 later this year, said to support both with wider coverage. (The X50 hardware is compatible with mmWave and sub-6 at this time, but not in the AT & T network architecture as it was designed today.)

AT & T is far from being alone in the confusion of 5G waters. Verizon may have the first commercial 5G phone as exclusive to its network, but the company's 5G deployment is much less robust than AT & T's. While AT & T launched 5G in 12 cities late last year, Verizon has just begun offering its version of the service in "select areas" of Chicago and Minneapolis.

The Verge went to the Illinois metropolis last week to test it ourselves, and while the speeds were incredibly fast, the coverage was terribly bad. You can also access it using the Motorola Moto Z3 mid-range with the 5G Moto Mod. Similarly, Verizon only relies on the short-range mmWave spectrum, so you need to be physically close to one of its 5G nodes in the center of Chicago to access it. Walk around the corner or place a hard surface that is not glass between you and the node, and it is likely to return to LTE.

Therefore, the 5G strategies of both companies are a bit like a marketing disaster at the moment and surely lead to serious confusion. Undoubtedly, 5G will reach some point in the next two years, with smartphones with 5G modems suitable to meet the standard and deliver the high speeds promised. But until now, AT & T and Verizon are competing with each other to the goal of a race that only matters to the two companies. Meanwhile, we, as customers, are stuck with silly tactics like the AT & T 5G logo and tax that, if remembered, is not really real 5G, but another trick aimed at making AT & T look like it has reached the future faster than your company. rival.

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