PhotoAT&T has pegged Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco as the first of 12 metro areas to receive its new 5G wireless service this year. That trailblazing move makes the company the only U.S. carrier to roll out plans for the high-speed technology in 2018, according to its announcement.

“After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G – and do it much sooner than most people thought possible,” said Igal Elbaz, senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design. “Our mobile 5G firsts will put our customers in the middle of it all.”

AT&T’s news comes on the heels of a Trump administration announcement that a nationwide 5G network is near the top of its wish list. Such a centralized network would make it easier to safeguard the country’s wireless systems from Chinese spying and economic threats. China is considered by many to be the chief malicious rogue in the digital information world.

The need for speed continues

Having access to 5G (fifth-generation) service raises the playing field for everyone. This upgrade brings with it three new, significant features: the ability to move more data with greater speed, the power to connect more devices at the same time, and more responsive access with lower latency.

Just how fast will 5G go? In layman’s terms, almost 100 times faster than the current average internet speed. You’ll be able to download a 100 GB 4K movie in under four minutes and a 50 GB game in less than two minutes.

Smartphones aren’t going to be AT&T’s first touchpoint, though. The company’s initial plans are built around a device called a "puck" that will act like a mobile hotspot and make it possible for consumers to connect existing devices to the enhanced 5G network.

Unfortunately, consumers who want to take advantage of 5G for their smartphone will likely need to buy a new device when the technology fully rolls out. If you remember the changeover from 3G to 4G, your 3G phone didn’t support 4G. The shift to 5G will likely produce the same limitation and an upgraded phone will be necessary to support both 4G and 5G.

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