AT&T bringing 5G to Charlotte, Raleigh, Oklahoma City

Charlotte, Raleigh, and Oklahoma City will join Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco in gaining access to AT&T's early 5G networks by the end of 2018, with six more cities yet to be announced.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

AT&T has revealed three more cities that will receive 5G by the end of the year, with the carrier bringing its new network to Charlotte, Raleigh, and Oklahoma City.

The three new cities will join Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco in gaining access to AT&T's 5G network, with six additional cities have yet to be announced. The carrier is also planning to launch a 5G Wi-Fi hotspot commercially by the end of 2018.

"We're deliberately launching with a mix of big and mid-sized cities," AT&T said.

"One competitor recently boasted 'New York matters more than Waco' when discussing their future plans. We politely disagree -- all Americans should have access to next-gen connectivity to avoid a new digital divide.

"We're ready to be the first US provider to finally bring this technology to life for people."

AT&T additionally announced that its LTE Licensed Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) technology has now been launched in eight new markets: Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Texas; San Jose, California; Tampa, Florida; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

In November, AT&T had announced that it would be deploying commercial LTE-LAA technology to push its network to peak theoretical speeds of up to 1Gbps, along with 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (4x4 MIMO), 3x carrier aggregation, and 256 quadrature amplitude moderation (QAM) technologies.

It has now been rolled in 15 markets, including Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, California; Indianapolis, Indiana; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; and McAllen, Texas.

AT&T has been focused on its 5G rollout, trialling the technology throughout 2017 and last month announcing a test of fixed-wireless 5G in South Bend, Indiana, utilising its full-fibre broadband network and millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum.

Unlike lab and field trials, the carrier said it is delivering 5G fixed-wireless services to several residential premises in the South Bend area, with one household seeing speeds of 1Gbps and latency of under 20 milliseconds.

Its 5G foundation technology is also live in more than 140 markets.

AT&T also said it will be launching its full-fibre network in Bowling Green, Kentucky; Florence, South Carolina; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Lake Charles, Louisiana -- after previously announcing the AT&T Fiber areas of Amarillo, Beaumont, and Waco, Texas; Evansville, Indiana; Gainesville and Pensacola, Florida; Springfield, Illinois; Northeast Mississippi; and Panama City.

AT&T Fiber -- which offers speeds of up to 1Gbps -- has so far reached more than 9 million areas across the United States, with plans to reach 14 million locations in 84 metro areas by mid-2019.

"Our fibre expansions across the nation will help allow AT&T to achieve its plans to be the first US carrier to provide mobile 5G service, which we plan to begin introducing in 12 cities by the end of this year," AT&T Indiana president Bill Soards said.

Speaking to ZDNet in February, AT&T SVP of Wireless Network Architecture and Design Igal Elbaz said the carrier is ahead of the curve when it comes to 5G thanks to its focus on edge computing and network virtualisation.

The carrier is the global frontrunner in "standards-based mobile 5G", Elbaz said, after it announced in January that it will be providing non-standalone (NSA) 5G services in around 12 markets by late 2018.

"We are very uniquely positioned because of our experience in SDN, and because of what we are doing in 5G, and because of what we are doing in edge," he told ZDNet.

"And you're seeing in all three dimensions, we're very active in each one of them; we believe that we have a very unique not just opportunity but an advantage in terms of how we think about the network and how we should deploy it."

Elbaz also said AT&T's acquisition of FiberTower in February and the mmWave spectrum gained as a result "puts us where we need to be".

While its initial 5G networks will use only mmWave spectrum, the SVP also said that AT&T's nationwide rollout will utilise its low- and mid-band spectrum in future.

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