AT&T plans to roll-out a nationwide, fifth-generation wireless network for businesses in 2020, the company said on Monday, intensifying the battle between top cellular providers to be the first to unveil the high-speed offering outside of select U.S. cities.
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The Dallas-based firm said its new 5G network, currently available in 12 cities including Atlanta, Dallas, Louisville and New Orleans, will lead to increased earnings and reduced costs for U.S. companies.
“The 5G services we’re rolling out and combining with our advanced network capabilities will help businesses fundamentally change for the better,” Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer at AT&T Business, said in a statement.
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While still in the nascent stages, 5G technology holds immense promise to significantly enhance wireless speeds and bring with it new advancements in, among other things, the so-called “Internet of Things” [IoT] and self-driving cars. With expectations so high, competitors like Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint are also all rushing to deploy the offering across the country.
AT&T plans to offer two new Samsung smartphones in 2019 that will work on the 5G network, which the company says will also transfer seamlessly between WiFi and 4G wireless -- commonly referred to as LTE.
Verizon currently offers 5G service in cities including Houston, Indianapolis and Los Angeles, but only as a replacement for home broadband networks. The company plans to partner with both Motorola and Samsung to also release 5G compatible cell phones this year.
In October, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg echoed a similar tone, telling FOX Business, "Whatever they have on their 4G today they’re going to have on 5G," he added. "It’s going to just be so much more throughput, and speeds in the network, so much faster, totally different.”
And T-Mobile and Sprint, in their quest to gain federal approval for a $26.5 billion merger, say a combination is necessary in order to compete against Verizon and AT&T’s 5G offerings.
Outside the battle between U.S. wireless providers, industry experts, elected officials and others have raised concerns that China could bypass the U.S. in developing the new technology. Telecommunications firms Huawei Tech. and ZTE, Inc., companies that government officials say effectively operate as conduits for Chinese espionage in the U.S., are both working on deploying the offering.
Last year, Meredith Attwell Baker, president of industry trade group CTIA, stressed the need for the United States to lead the 5G global race in FOX Business opinion piece.