I still can’t get a good LTE signal in my kitchen, but that’s not stopping the wireless networks fearlessly powering into the future. AT&T has announced plans for rolling out “5G Evolution,” a beta version of the 5G standard, to 20 metro areas by the end of 2017.
The network is available today in Austin, Texas, but only for people using 5G-capable phones. For the time being, that’s just the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but expect devices launched later this year like the new Google Pixel or iPhone 8 to have the same wireless chip.
5G Evolution is an interim technology that promises faster-than-4G performance, but it’s not full 5G just yet. The standards for 5G have yet to be finalized and true 5G networks won’t roll out until 2019. However, 5G Evolution is still a big step up over regular 4G LTE. Speeds should be around 400Mbps, with a theoretical max of 1Gbps near the cell sites.
That’s in the same ballpark as the speeds that are possible with 4G LTE, thanks to recent technologies like carrier aggregation, which can use multiple frequencies to achieve speeds over 300Mbps.
AT&T is planning on rolling out 5G Evolution to a number of metro areas this year, including Indianapolis, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, and San Francisco.