The 5G rollout in the United States is making good progress. Top carriers are aiming to provide super-fast telecom speeds with the fifth generation telecom technology.
Although the pace of 5G’s network rollout will increase throughout 2019 and 2020, access to the service in all parts of America will take at least a year or two.
There are four pan-nation carriers in the U.S –AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Each has its own individual plans in spreading the 5G network and technology to different cities in the U.S.
Technology challenges behind the 5G rollout
Most 5G networks operate on high radio frequencies called “millimeter waves” with the ability to carry lots of data. But the challenge is in overcoming the narrow range as they do not travel long distances. That poses a challenge in building an extensive network of millions of smaller antennae to service more customers.
AT&T targets 20 cities for early 5G rollout
As a player, AT&T is ahead and has deployed America’s first 5G mobile network way back in December 2018. It announced rollout in 12 cities including Charlotte, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Dallas, Houston, and Texas. In February it said 5G will expand to nine more cities in 2019. They include Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Florida, and San Francisco.
AT&T claims that it has a network speed of over 400 megabits per second that is 100 times faster than 4G in the best of network conditions.
AT&T’s 5G network uses ultra-high frequency radio waves. But high frequency cannot travel long distances unlike lower frequency airwaves do.
So, AT&T is planning to deploy nationwide 5G by using lower frequency airwaves by 2020.
T-Mobile to build the largest network
T-Mobile’s strategy in 5G is different. It plans a faster rollout across 30 cities by June this year. That would make T-Mobile the owner of the largest 5G network in 2019.
T-Mobile’s plan has a marketing advantage but the less-expensive approach may make the network a tad slower because the spectrum it is planning for 5G use will be of lower frequency.
According to Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s CTO, the company would also launch its 5G network based on a higher frequency by June this year.
Verizon to launch 5G mobile network soon
Verizon is noted for its first ever 5G product 5 months ago. Its home broadband router is known as “5G Home” that converts 5G signals into Wi-Fi. But it does not follow the internationally recognized standards on 5G. Verizon is looking to expand the 5G Home product to 30 more markets by June and says it will upgrade standards to match the rest of the 5G world.
Verizon is also planning to launch its 5G mobile network in the first half of 2019. It will also sell the about to be launched, first 5G smartphone, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
Sprint’s strength of high band spectrum
Sprint recently said it is going to launch 5G service in May covering cities of Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas Kansas City, and Missouri. By June, it plans to add New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Washington DC.
Sprint is excited about the high-frequency airwaves it has accessed from the Clearwire acquisition in 2013. Sprint believes it will take advantage of Clearwire spectrum to garner a higher market share in 5G.
In fact, Clearwire high band spectrum is Sprint’s bargaining chip in the planned merger with T-Mobile which in possession of more low-frequency spectrum.
Sprint also announced that it will be providing 5G to Google’s wireless network known as Google Fi.