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5G wireless is coming: AT&T to launch in two US cities in 2017

Speeds of 400Mbps, plus a smarter network is being promised by AT&T which plans to roll out a 5G wireless network across two US cities in 2017. The move signals to both America and the rest of the world that super mobile speeds are coming.

The two cities are Austin and Indianapolis which AT&T plans to roll out 5G to later this year. Peak speeds will reach 400Mbps or higher, but it’s expected that this will push towards 1Gbps in some areas this year, claims the mobile carrier.

The upgrade, part of AT&T’s ‘Indigo’ platform is also intended to be smarter – it’s believed that technologies like machine learning will help it to adapt.


However, iPhone and iPad users hoping to jump straight in once the platform rolls out might have to wait a little longer. Hardware requires 5G compatibility – and as yet, there is no 5G standard. This is expected sometime in 2018, so not even Apple’s tenth anniversary iPhone will be compatible. We probably won’t see it until the 2019/2020 models of Apple’s cellular devices.

But considering it’s been more than six years since LTE 4G rolled out, here’s hoping that device manufacturers will be quicker to adapt the technology. Apple in particular may want to be an early adopter as its business consolidates, in order to maintain the value of individual iPhone handsets as cheaper solutions flood the market.

Importantly, 4G will be backward-compatible despite 5G speeds being around ten times faster than LTE.

Internet of things

Elsewhere, it’s likely that 5G’s smart capability will respond to the “Internet of things,” the concept that devices are always connected and that the internet is no longer just information we browse on a computer. Internet-enabled devices like smart home devices and cars will likely tap in to parts of a 5G network that provides slower data speeds as required, while it could also help more rural areas to improve broadband capabilities.

There’s no lack of enthusiasm from the technology world, that’s for sure. As engadget noted at last year’s Mobile World Congress, multiple technology providers were working on 5G.

It also describes larger company’s lack of resistance to closed ecosystems which affected compatibility with carriers back when 4G rolled out. The article states:

“I think companies like Intel and Samsung, they learned a lesson [with 4G’s rollout] that … doing something that doesn’t have big ecosystem is not something that operators want,” said Ozge Koymen, principal engineer at Qualcomm. “They want to be able to buy Nokia, Ericsson and other vendors and have them talk to different vendors.”

As for AT&T’s 5G launch, it’s likely that this is simply an experiment in real-world testing. What and who will be able to utilize this network in 2017 based on hardware and access is a question that hasn’t yet been answered, but it’s a positive progression towards faster cellular speeds nonetheless.

It’s also hoped that the benefits of 5G will allow carriers to offer more data at less costs. For those that remember the halcyon days of unlimited data prior to 4G, and in some regards before 3G, we might see the return of an unbridled internet connection via our iPhones once more.

Keep reading: How to prevent your iPhone or iPad from wasting cellular data