AT&T eyeing 5G availability in 21 cities
AT&T (T) recently added Minneapolis and Chicago to the list of cities where it wants to introduce 5G service this year under its 2019 deployment roadmap. The company previously announced plans to launch its 5G network in seven cities including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco this year. AT&T began offering 5G services in December with a launch in 12 cities including Atlanta, Charlotte, and Indianapolis. By the end of 2019, AT&T wants to have its 5G network available in at least 21 cities, nearly doubling its 5G footprint from last year.
AT&T and Verizon order 5G phones directly from manufacturer
5G-ready phones are currently not available in stores, which is slowing the uptake of 5G services. However, 5G-ready phones powered by Qualcomm (QCOM) chips should start arriving in the coming months. In an apparent attempt to speed up the uptake of 5G services, AT&T and Verizon (VZ) have separately signed agreements with Samsung (SSNLF) to make smartphones that run on their 5G networks. AT&T and Verizon are hoping to make their Samsung-made 5G devices available to customers in the first half of 2019. Sprint (S) also signed LG Electronics to make a 5G phone that can work on its network.
Operators seeking to lead 5G race
Amid tightening competition for wireless customers, all four national operators are seeking to get ahead in the 5G deployment race. Verizon’s 5G network went live in four cities in October last year. AT&T closed the fourth quarter of 2018 with 153 million wireless customers.