AT&T just opened 5G in seven more cities, still doesn’t have a 5G phone

Image credit: AT&T

AT&T has rolled out mobile 5G in seven more cities: Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. That brings the total to 19 cities, per a press release from the telecom. But before you get excited – no, AT&T still doesn’t have a phone you can use on its 5G network. 

Currently, you can only use a 5G Netgear Nitehawk mobile hotspot on AT&T’s 5G millimeter wave network. It’s likely AT&T will add 5G phones that are also coming to other carriers, like the Samsung S10 5G and perhaps even a 5G version of the Samsung Fold, but so far the company hasn’t confirmed. 

Which means you’ll need that hotspot if you want to experience the promised high speeds of 5G – like, above 1 Gbps, which AT&T claims it just achieved on its network.

Limits of millimeter wave

While we haven’t tried out AT&T’s network – we’ll wait until there’s more available than just a tough-to-get hotspot – its 5G is broadcast through millimeter wave tech, which purportedly covers much less area than 4G LTE. 

Verizon’s just-launched 5G network in Chicago and Minneapolis runs on the same millimeter wave spectrum, and during our testing, we’ve found it spotty, if improving. But it’s unclear if millimeter wave will seriously limit coverage areas.

AT&T is working on broader “sub-6” spectrum tech for its nationwide 5G network, which the carrier expecs to roll out by early 2020, per today’s press release. 

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.