What you need to know
- AT&T 5G now covers more than 250 million people six months ahead of schedule.
- 5G+ continues to expand with coverage in parts of more than 40 cities and 40 venues by the end of 2021.
- 5G+ is already available in one airport, with seven more planned by the end of the year and 25 by the end of 2022.
AT&T has a lot to say about 5G, announcing it has reached 250 million people covered by its 5G network in July 2021. This is six months ahead of schedule and is a major step towards achieving full nationwide 5G coverage. This coverage is mostly made up of AT&T's low-band 5G and shared DSS 5G. The announcement also included updates to its 5G+ (mmWave 5G) expansion and a plan for C-Band deployment.
AT&T's 5G+ currently has coverage in parts of 38 cities and 20 venues. This is expected to grow to more than 40 cities and 40 venues by the end of 2021. 5G+ uses mmWave technology to deploy high-speed 5G connectivity with a ton of capacity in areas with a large concentration of connections. AT&T is focusing 5G+ on stadiums, arenas, airports, and entertainment districts. AT&T is also working to bring 5G+ to more than two dozen corporate retail stores by the beginning of 2022.
In the most recent FCC auction, AT&T acquired 80MHz of C-band, which is mid-band spectrum around 6GHz. For comparison, T-Mobile's Ultra Capacity 5G uses 2.5GHz spectrum. AT&T will be able to start deployment later in 2021 when the first 40MHz of C-band spectrum becomes available. This is part of its plan to cover 70-75 million people by the end of 2022 plus a further 200 million by the end of 2023. C-band sits between AT&T's nationwide 5G and 5G+ in terms of performance but offers much greater coverage than 5G+.
AT&T also announced its plan to expand 5G+ coverage in airports. Currently, only the Tampa International Airport has 5G+ coverage and AT&T plans to cover seven more by the end of 2021, with a total of 25 covered by the end of 2022. 5G+ will be coming to Dallas Love Field Airport, Los Angeles Airport (LAX), and Denver International Airport in the coming months.
AT&T is also working with Boingo, a company that provides Wi-Fi and connectivity to airports, to bring mmWave to 12 airports. This includes John F Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and Midway International Airport.
AT&T 5G including 5G+ is available to customers on one of AT&T's Unlimited plans with a compatible 5G phone. AT&T's best 5G plan, Unlimited Elite, comes with unlimited premium data, 40GB of hotspot usage, and 4K video streaming. 5G is also included with the AT&T Prepaid Unlimited Plus plan as well as on prepaid carrier Cricket.
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