AT&T says that there will be 15 new devices this year that will be 5G capable through the wireless, video and broadband businesses.
Despite the ongoing hype around 5G and it’s lightning-fast speeds and super low latency, not many people have had the chance to experience it just yet. While some carriers have touted coverage in major cities, it’s only available in certain hotspots and isn’t available city-wide as advertised. Also, some 5G capable phones are incredibly expensive and not worth the money for what you get.
But according to Jeff McElfresh, chief executive of AT&T Communications, that’s all about to change. In a recent interview with CNET’s Daily Charge podcast, McElfresh discussed in-depth about AT&T’s 5G rollout, the addition of new devices and that more affordable plans are coming.
McElfresh said “You should not assume that 5G is an exclusive capability for the most expensive handsets, and found only in the most expensive rate plans,” he continued, “The speed at which the technology is beginning to make its way into the network is unparalleled.”
If more people get onto AT&T 5G, it’s not only a huge boost in network performance but it almost means less congestion on their older networks. The drive to get people onto 5G doesn’t just stop with performance, it also means things like autonomous cars and telemedicine will become a reality among other technological advances.
As it stands right now, you can only access AT&T’s 5G network if you’re on one of their unlimited plans and must have a 5G capable device.
While McElfresh stayed mummed on the details, he said that 5G would become more accessible and that AT&T plans to launch 15 5G capable devices. This echoed the same message he made to CNET at CES in January of this year.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, AT&T still has plans to launch nationwide 5G coverage this year, it will just be a little later than expected. AT&T previously said that they were hoping to launch at the beginning of summer, but now it’s looking like it will be at the end of the summer.
Because some government offices are closed, McElfresh said it was hard to get the necessary permits to work on certain cell sites in some locations.
AT&T is also working to deploy 5G using the mmWave spectrum, which will deliver the much anticipated and hyped speeds with this technology. Because the mmWave spectrum produces the best-of-the-best in 5G performance, McElfresh said that this part of the network still may be reserved for the higher-end plans. He said, “It’ll become components on some larger unlimited plans.”
The pandemic has brought uncertainty across all industries and telecom is not immune. AT&T will continue to adjust their plans based on the changing landscape. McElfresh said, “We’ll definitely be reactive to the way the market responds.”
It’s worth noting that just because 5G gets turned on doesn’t mean adoption will be instantaneous. McElfresh said that while the need for 5G has become apparent during the pandemic, it’s not going to be an instant switch.
“The transition isn’t going to be a light switch,” he said. “It will take some time.”