AT&T has launched a new cellular service called “5G Evolution” in parts of Austin, Texas, where it has been testing the service. It will go live in Indianapolis, another test market, this summer and at least 18 other major metropolitan areas over the next several months — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville and San Francisco get call-outs in the press release.
Customers with a Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+ will have first crack at the network, which takes advantage of system-side and device-side technologies like 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM and carrier aggregation to achieve speeds twice the usual throughput of AT&T’s 4G LTE network. T-Mobile and Sprint have publicized their efforts with extended MIMO and advanced QAM.
The company admits that a 5G standard has yet to be finalized, but the name of its service represents “the foundation for our evolution to 5G”. It introduced (but has not built out) a new network grid concept called Project AirGig and has been acquiring spectrum holdings leading up to the launch of 5G Evolution. Carriers in other parts of the world that have been putting in mid-generation network improvements have used “4.5G” in their marketing.
Industry consortiums tasked with ironing out 5G standards have generally been working towards a publication target of late 2019 for implementation in 2020.