AT&T launches 5G network but Austin customers won’t be able to get it


AUSTIN (KXAN) — AT&T launched its 5G network Friday in 12 cities across the country, but despite Austin’s growing foundation in technology, tech experts say the city is lacking in infrastructure to handle the new network. 

“Austin has been slow in this front, but we are seeing a limited amount of progress in the last couple of weeks,” Scott Dunaway, a spokesperson with Texas 5G Alliance said. The alliance focuses on educating and advocating for the deployment of 5G throughout the Lone Star state. 

“[Austin] City Council has approved an emergency order to help streamline that permitting process,” Dunaway said. 

The ordinance was approved on Thursday, Dec. 13 focusing on the permit process for the installation of cellular network nodes on city-owned poles in the city’s right-of-way.

MORE: City of Austin sues Texas over massive new telecom bill

In 2017, lawmakers passed a law that made it cheaper and easier for major companies — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint — to bring 5G speed and service to their customers in 2019 at the expense of city governments.

The city of Austin sued the state over the law and are far behind in approving permits to make 5G a reality. 

“While we do understand a number of permits have not been issued, we are hopeful that in the near future they will and we will see a small cell network begin deployment inside the city to begin the power of 5G,” Dunaway added.

The 12 cities include Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Waco, Texas, Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis, Atlanta, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.

The new network could mean more innovation on how smart cities operate, Dunaway said. 

“A lot of people like to associate with the introduction of 4G, we saw the app economy change the way that we live our lives,” he said.

Mobile apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Uber and Lyft, among others, have been made possible as a result of advancing technology. With 5G, our access to the internet will be up to 20 times faster than it is now with the potential to impact all aspects of life. 

For example, the future of autonomous vehicles could depend on how quickly it can communicate on the roadways in order to reduce traffic and improve safety. Communication between businesses and manufacturing facilities and potential autonomous trucks might also be in our future with 5G speed interent. 

“Data will be converted in all new ways that a lot of industry analysts say is unimaginable at this point because of the level of speed that will be available to these companies and consumers,” Dunway said. “It’s exciting to think about.” He believes this will also bring major advancements to Telecare system. 

“5G connectivity will enable healthcare professionals to create and environment where they can do telecare in its real life, in its real time, where they can treat patients without having to leave their home, that’s an excited innovation,” he said. 

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Not only will the new network bring with it more speed, Dunaway believes it will encourage Austin to pick up the pace when it comes to investing in 5G capable infrastructure.

“Austin is viewed nationally as a technology hub, but it takes a lot of effort and work to keep the reputation in place,” he said. “As our city grows, so do the number of connected devices on the internet of things, the amount of bandwidth and the reliability in our network — improvements in our infrastructure will be important to the future and companies that are assessing our environment to move here will judge and take it on its merits as it impacts the ability for them to do business here, and 5G readiness will be a component of that.”

The Evolution of Wireless Speeds

  • 1G was introduced in the early 80s and got analog sound.
  • Then 2G came along and we were able to text.
  • In 2001, 3G brought with it the ability to surf the web, as well as the option to send or receive photos.
  • 4G allowed for faster and more reliable web experience and video and audio streaming capabilities. 

Some tech experts says with 5G, you could download a movie in seconds. However, only time will tell us what’s to come. 

This is the first rollout of the network for AT&T. Next year, the company plans to turn on the 5G network in the following cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.

At present, there are no phones on the market capable of running on the 5G network, but AT&T plans to release two Samsung phones next year that will be 5G compatible. 

For now, the first experience of 5G speeds can happen through a NETGEAR hotspot, but in order to participate AT&T customers will need to express their interests in trying out the new network. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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