AT&T said it plans to start deploying lower band spectrum on its 5G network in the second half of this year and reach nationwide coverage with the sub-6 GHz spectrum in early 2020. It will also keep using higher mmWave spectrum to deliver ‘5G+’ speeds in certain areas. The company’s network plans were outlined by Jeff McElfresh, president, AT&T Technology Operations, at CES.
AT&T launched its first 5G mobile services at the end of 2018, and the company said it is moving quickly to roll out the network and build on its early start. McElfresh noted the roll-out was narrowed from the usual 18 months within the approval of a new mobile standard to within the same year as the 5G standards were approved by the 3GPP.
Following the nationwide deployment of LTE-M in 2017, AT&T said it plans to launch NB-IoT in the US in the coming months and in Mexico by the end of 2019. The company also announced an extended partnership with Magic Leap to bring its mixed reality products to enterprise markets such as healthcare, retail and manufacturing.
On the FirstNet deployment, the operator said it reached 40 percent of its target coverage in 2018. The LTE coverage area of the AT&T network and the FirstNet public safety communications platform was expanded by more than 50,000 square miles nationwide, covering an additional 1 million individuals. The added coverage is the result of ongoing indoor and outdoor network build, as well as deployment of Band 14 spectrum in 500+ markets. By the end of this year, AT&T expects network capacity to increase by 50 percent since 2017.