It is official, 5G technology will be available to purchase in the US from AT&T on Friday in a few selected cities. Just in time for the holidays, residents of Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh, N.C.; San Antonio; and (of course) Waco, Texas will be able to use a mobile hotspot with an upfront cost of $499 and monthly data service costs of $70.
This is a far cry from being able to but a 5G phone of tablet or even being able to use 5G for a fleet of connected devices. The hotspot is about the size of a romance roval and can support up to 20 Wi-Fi devices. This mobile hotspot is said to have “all day” battery life but its current stage it will have limited long-range connectivity since the millimeter-wave 5G that it uses won’t penetrate deep into buildings or go through “low-e” glass. While it has a long way to go before it will replace any of the existing technologies it is a step in the right direction and something to keep an eye on.
We have written before about the possible impacts of the new 5G era on commercial real estate. Since this type of communication is able to process large amounts of information but lacks the ability to transmit long distances it will require cooperation with building owners an operators to have coverage in cities. It also represents a large investment for buildings that want 5G for their residents. Since it does not easily penetrate multiple walls, transmitters will have to strategically install a grid of them to ensure blanket coverage. As we reported on last week, building technology accreditation company WiredScore is already looking at having 5G coverage as one of their parameters. Uncoincidentally they also announced that they will be launched some advisory services to help building owners and managers navigate the implementation of these complicated new technologies.
One of the things to remember about any telecom tech race is that they leave a lot up to interpretation. There have already been some reporters grumbling about the loose definition of 5G and the race to be first might not speed the implementation of a true 5G network. The desire to be first does mean a lot about what they think that market wants though. And if the market is willing to pay for this faster network then it is only a matter of time before it gets built. Now we must wait and see if AT&T can improve upon their 5G product and meet their goals to roll it out to parts of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, California in the first half of 2020. As a resident of one of the cities in that next group, I certainly hope that they do.