With faster 5G networks getting ready to go into operation in 2019, mobile telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon are preparing for what they expect will be a groundswell of customers who are looking to upgrade their smartphones to take advantage of the performance boosts to come.
With that in mind, both companies recently announced that they will have new Samsung 5G phones ready for sale when their networks go into operation.
AT&T said it will offer two Samsung phones to business customers and consumers, with one in the spring of 2019 and the other to be offered in the second half of the year. No specific models or specifications have yet been announced at this point, however.
AT&T said it will have one 5G device ready for sale this year, a 5G mobile hotspot.
In an update about its continuing 5G network buildout, AT&T said it has been enhancing its nationwide LTE network by installing software upgradeable sub-6 GHz radios throughout its infrastructure so that 5G services will be available to more customers in more areas as the deployment continues.
The 5G mobile hotspot, the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, will be available through AT&T exclusively, according to the company, when it goes in sale this year.
AT&T said it plans to reach at least 12 cities in 2018 with 5G equipment, and another 19 cities in early 2019.
Additional cities and regions will be announced individually as the rollout continues.
"5G is going to be about more than just a network," said David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment. "Customers will eventually be able to connect in near real time to unforeseen possibilities. Together with Samsung, we plan to bring the best in technology and innovation to our customers. The future we imagine with 5G is just beginning, and it is a great time to be a consumer."
The U.S. cities where AT&T plans to have standards-based mobile 5G service available this year are Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh, N.C.; San Antonio; and Waco, Texas. The seven additional cities planned so far for the first half of 2019 are Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Nashville, Tenn.; Orlando, Fla.; San Diego; San Francisco; and San Jose, Calif.
Verizon is also planning to release its own its 5G handsets from Samsung in early 2019, according to a recent story by Reuters.
Even with these announcements, most 5G services won't be ready for widespread use until 2020, with five or more years necessary for a more complete buildout of the networks for each mobile carrier. Other companies, including Sprint and T-Mobile, are also readying their plans for 5G-capable devices and services.