5G networks are here: here's everything you need to know



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Each of the four cellular operators nationwide – AT & T (T), Sprint (S), T Mobile (TMUS) and Verizon (VZ) – develops and tests the 5G network technology. AT & T rolled out America's first 5G mobile network in December.

The availability of the 5G network will increase in 2019 and 2020. But 5G will not be available anywhere in the United States for at least a year or two.

AT & T announced its next-generation network in December in 12 cities: Jacksonville, Florida, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Louisville, Kentucky, New Orleans, Charlotte, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Dallas , Houston, San Antonio and Waco, Texas.

This month, AT & T has announced the activation of 5G in at least nine additional cities this year. The next 5G cities of AT & T include Minneapolis, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Tennessee, Orlando, Florida, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, California.

AT & T, which owns CNN's parent company, WarnerMedia, said its network has more than 400 megabits per second, which is much faster than most home broadband connections and up to 100 times more faster than 4G, depending on network conditions.

The company's 5G network is currently very limited. You can only access it on a specific Netgear Hotspot device that converts the network's waves into a Wi-Fi network. This allows PCs, phones, and other Internet-connected gadgets to take advantage of ultra-fast 5G speeds – without connecting AT & T 5G networks.

Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile access point.

Customers with the hotspot can access 5G in city centers, but not yet in all cities. Indeed, the AT & T 5G network currently uses ultra-high frequency radio waves. These "millimeter waves" allow ultra-fast speeds, but they do not travel long distances or through walls, unlike low-frequency waves.

AT & T has announced that it will roll out 5G nationwide using low frequency airwaves in early 2020.

In the meantime, AT & T has upgraded its existing 4G network and calls it, a confusing "evolution of 5G". The provider updated its phone software last month to display a "5GE" indicator when its phones access the LTE-Advanced network. Sprint sued AT & T for false advertising.

Sprint

Sprint announced Monday that its 5G service will be launched in May in four cities: Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City, Missouri. At the end of June, Sprint plans to add Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and Washington DC.

Its coverage will vary by city. For example, Sprint's 5G network will only cover areas of Midtown and Lower Manhattan in New York. But the 5G coverage in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will extend over 230 square miles.

Sprint takes advantage of a vast high-frequency waveband purchased at the time of the Clearwire acquisition, which Sprint completed in 2013. Sprint thinks that with the 5G, it will finally be up and running. able to take advantage of the full spectrum Clearwire, for which it has debated. build in recent years.

That's why the Clearwire spectrum is a vital cog in the T-Mobile fusion project, which features many low frequency frequencies but not much in the higher bands.

Sprint also announced Monday the supply of 5G to Google Fi, the wireless network of Google for seamless switching between Sprint and T-Mobile networks. Sprint expects Fi customers to access 5G networks in the first half of 2019.

T Mobile

T-Mobile takes a different 5G path from its rivals. Instead of slowly deploying 5G city by city, T-Mobile plans to activate 5G technology in 30 cities during the second half of the year. This could give T-Mobile the largest 5G network in 2019.

T-Mobile's strategy has advantages and disadvantages. Having the largest 5G network would be a marketing advantage because customers are looking to buy this exciting technology. It's also a less expensive approach than deploying thousands, even millions, of small cells above street lamps and buildings in every city.

But T-Mobile's strategy means its 5G network will likely be slower than its competitors because the spectrum that T-Mobile plans to use for 5G has a lower frequency.

Neville Ray, technical director of T-Mobile, told CNET Monday that the company would launch its 5G network during the first half of the year, but it does not expect that the first 5G smartphones operate on the T-Mobile network. The company will launch its big 5G effort later in the year, when customers will be able to purchase smartphones compatible with its network.

Verizon

In October, Verizon launched America's first 5G product: a broadband home router. The "5G Home" converts Verizon's 5G signal into Wi-Fi. But it's not mobile, and it does not follow the internationally recognized standard for 5G.

It will come later. Verizon plans to launch its 5G mobile network in the first half of 2019.

Verizon took a step ahead on 5G smartphones: it will sell the first 5G smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, announced by Samsung last week. The Galaxy S10 5G will arrive on each of the other national networks later in the year.

Although Verizon's exclusive Moto z3 smartphone features a 4G radio, customers can connect to Verizon's 5G network with a plug-in 5G modular radio later this year. And Verizon also announced that the new LG V50 ThinQ 5G will come on Verizon's network this summer.

Verizon says it will expand its 5G market to 30 markets in the second half and will upgrade it to the technology standard used by the rest of the world in 5G later in 2019.

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