AT&T announces 5G rollout in Austin

Austin may be taking a tentative step toward 5G connectivity.

AT&T Inc. announced the launch of limited 5G mobile service in Austin — along with Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, California. But Austinites shouldn’t rejoice just yet: the company isn’t sharing details on pricing, accessibility or the extent of the rollout.

It remains unclear what Austin residents can expect after AT&T’s announcement. A company spokesman declined to say which parts of Austin will have access.

AT&T rolled out limited 5G in December to parts of 12 cities, including Dallas, Waco, San Antonio and Houston. The company announced in late March it had surpassed mobile 5G speeds of 1 gigabit per second in multiple cities using a commercial device, the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot. With that speed, the telecommunications company touted, a two-hour HD movie could be downloaded in 20 seconds.

But that device isn’t widely commercially available. It’s also important to note that current smartphones won’t be able to access the speedier network, although AT&T is expected to carry the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphone when it debuts later this year.

While AT&T isn’t shedding much light on its Austin rollout, the potential impacts of 5G networks are hard to overstate. The next generation of high-speed wireless service could pave the way for safer self-driving vehicles, establish a new era in virtual and augmented reality technologies, transform the manufacturing industry with smart factories, enable doctors to perform more technical remote procedures and revolutionize the customer service and retail industries.