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5G is not all it's cracked up to be (yet): AT&T

5G may be here soon, but AT&T thinks its path to success won't be that short. (Source: Converge Digest)
5G may be here soon, but AT&T thinks its path to success won't be that short. (Source: Converge Digest)
The United States and South Korea are the countries most strongly linked with the earliest widespread roll-outs of the new mobile data-transfer standard, 5G. AT&T is one of the US networks engaged in the upcoming national 5G distribution program. However, reps from the carrier have warned against getting too excited about it right now.

5G, or 5G-NR, is the successor to 4G. Its implementation promises blazing-fast data-transfer speed and power. For example, Samsung estimates that its new 5G modem could achieve as much as 5 times the downlink speed compared to 4G. However, AT&T is now associated with comments that customers should not expect this kind of performance from first-generation 5G infrastructures, at least not at first.

This could be perceived as rather ironic, as AT&T is one of the major US carriers with contracts to provision 5G connectivity in the country. This could be implemented as early as 2019. On the other hand, the company would be in a good position to judge the potential of the new radio bands in their current state.

AT&T has apparently stated that 5G may have reliability and stability problems in its early days. In addition, the carrier's CFO, John Stephens, has warned against banking on it for profits next year. This caveat may be based on poor anticipated uptake; for example, only about 5% of AT&T customers are expected to buy a 5G phone when these devices become available from the network. Therefore, the 'new 4G' may have a long way to go before it is the mobile-data benchmark of the world.


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Deirdre O Donnell, 2018-11-15 (Update: 2018-11-15)