AT&T has unveiled plans to launch a so-called ‘5G Evolution’ service in 20 major metropolitan areas by the end of this year, starting with Austin, Texas this week. Initially, the upgrade will only be available to AT&T Mobility customers with a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8 handset. The next city in line for the service is Indianapolis, followed by the likes of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville and San Francisco.
Critics have been quick to point out that the upgrade merely utilises the type of carrier aggregation (CA), 4×4 multiple-input, multiple-output (4×4 MIMO) and 256 QAM technology already readily available via rival operator T-Mobile US. Industry observers, meanwhile, have noted that the use of ‘5G’ for marketing purposes recalls the furore from several years ago, when a number of US wireless operators marketed 3.5G HSPA+ networks as ‘4G’, prior to rolling out ‘true’ 4G LTE networks.