There were a lot of developments in wireless 5G service throughout 2017, and now that we're at the beginning of the new year, AT&T has announced that it plans on releasing a true 5G network to 12 different markets by late 2018.

The last major development in 5G last year was the finalization of its standards by the 3GPP. With these standards in place, AT&T says that it'll be able to push out 5G before the end of the year now that OEMs and chipset manufacturers can create hardware that's compatible with the new network.

Per AT&T's President of Technology and Operations, Melissa Arnoldi –

5G will change the way we live, work and enjoy entertainment. We're moving quickly to begin deploying mobile 5G this year and start unlocking the future of connectivity for consumers and businesses. With faster speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video and more.

This 5G network that AT&T is talking about shouldn't be confused with 5G Evolution that the carrier launched last April. 5G Evolution was nothing more than bad branding on AT&T's part to reference its enhanced 4G LTE service, but the 5G that's scheduled to launch by the end of the year is real, authentic 5G.

Larger rollouts of 5G on AT&T and other carriers likely won't be seen until 2019, but even just 12 markets getting a taste of 5G at some point before 2018 is over is quite exciting.

5G gets closer to reality as initial standard is finalized