AT&T hits new 5G milestone with standards-based mobile device

AT&T completed the world's first mmWave mobile 5G browsing session with a standards-based commercial device

AT&T on Thursday night successfully completed the world's first millimeter wave mobile 5G browsing session with a standards-based device on a mobile 5G network, the company announced Friday.

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As AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon all race to build out their 5G networks, deploying on standards-based mobile equipment marks an important milestone. Last month at Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA), AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch told ZDNet his carrier did not want to "waste time or effort" on the deployment of non-standardized, fixed 5G.

"We really wanted to go after a global standard that the entire industry could align around ... the differentiation really here is we're mobile 5G, all standards based, we're not about fixed 5G or non-standard," he said.

Earlier this month, Verizon launched 5G Home, its new fixed 5G broadband service that for now runs on proprietary standards. This week, Verizon reported that the 5G rollout is going as expected. "5G Home will become more significant as we expand coverage and we get on the global standards equipment in 2019," CFO Matt Ellis said.

In a statement Friday, David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment, called the latest development "a seminal moment in the advancement of mobile 5G technology."

The browsing session was on the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, the first standards-based mobile 5G device able to access a live millimeter wave 5G network. The 3GPP 5G NR standards-based mobile 5G connection was also supported by Ericsson equipment and the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem.

AT&T says it's on track to introduce mobile 5G services in the US on the Netgear device. The company plans to reach at least 12 cities this year, 19 cities in early 2019 and will announce additional markets individually as the mobile 5G network goes live.