AT&T Inc. will roll out 5G service to three additional U.S. cities, a sign that the industrywide push to adopt the speedier standard is finally moving from marketing announcements to reality.
Oklahoma City and two North Carolina cities — Charlotte and Raleigh — will be getting the mobile service later this year, AT&T said on Friday. They join Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, which were already announced. Rival Verizon Communications Inc., meanwhile, has discussed adopting 5G service in four cities this year, including Los Angeles and Sacramento, California.
All of the wireless carriers have all been testing new 5G network equipment in select areas, aiming to be first out of the gate with connection speeds that promise to be 10 to 100 times faster than current standards. The idea is that dramatically new speeds will eventually help support everything from self-driving cars to remote-controlled surgical robots.
The technology also is seen as a potential driver of economic expansion. Companies throughout the supply chain are expected to spend an estimated $200 billion on 5G efforts, and the Trump administration has billed it a national priority.
AT&T’s initial 5G service will be aimed at “pucks” or hot-spot devices, but not phones. Verizon is taking a similar approach, connecting the service to home receivers that serve as an alternative to stringing fiber-optic cable. Using a wireless broadband connection, Verizon will sell internet, phone and TV service to compete with cable companies, including Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc.
Two smaller carriers, T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp., also see 5G as key to their future. They have argued that a proposed merger between the two companies will help them roll out the new technology more quickly and efficiently.