Just 48 hours after leveling the playing field with one of its two big rivals while trumping the other as far as “unlimited elite” plan perks are concerned, AT&T is delivering a “5G infrastructure update” today meant primarily to highlight its competitive advantages over Verizon and T-Mobile.
Both “nationwide” 5G and 5G+ are growing but is the pace fast enough?
That… doesn’t exactly sound like a very massive expansion of a truly revolutionary service that leaves 4G LTE in the dust, and in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t compare particularly favorably to Verizon’s mmWave-based 5G Ultra Wideband deployment, which hit a grand total of 60 cities last year and will undoubtedly stay ahead of AT&T’s 5G+ rollout in 2021 as well.
While it’s definitely impressive to hear that AT&T has therefore managed to hit its “end-of-year goal 6 months early”, said figure still trails the 300 million people covered by T-Mobile’s own nationwide 5G signal as of last month.
AT&T’s big C-band ambitions are overshadowed by T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G achievements
The problem is T-Mobile’s Ultra Capacity 5G network already covers 150 million people, largely relying on mid-band spectrum gained from last year’s completed Sprint merger. Meanwhile, AT&T hopes to reach anywhere between 70 and 75 million people by the end of next year and 200 million before 2023 wraps up with C-band technology aiming to strike a similar balance between speed and coverage.
A full experience, of course, would be one where low, mid, and high-band 5G come together to deliver flawless coverage and truly mind-blowing speeds on a literally nationwide scale, and that’s not something US carriers will actually be able to offer for a fairly long time going forward.