5G has arrived, my friends – that is, if you live in one of a dozen U.S. cities, and are on the AT&T network.  AT&T turned on their 5G network this past Tuesday, but you won’t be truly able to benefit from it until the 5G phones arrive in the first half of 2019.  It will also only be useful if you’ve got Netgear’s Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, which is a portable device that creates its own wi-fi network so that you can link phones, laptops and tablets to get onto the 5G network.  Ok, so it’s not actually here, then? I mean, when I hear that AT&T is turning on the network, that signals to me that it’s ready to go.  But it sounds more like the network is ready, but it’s not ready for people to use it, like 4G.  Am I wrong?

I’m also a bit surprised by the 12 cities where it is available.  I would have thought cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC would have made the cut, but apparently not.  Instead, the AT&T 5G network will work in these cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Jacksonville
  • Louisville
  • San Antonio
  • Oklahoma City
  • Raleigh
  • San Antonio
  • Waco

What we don’t know, is when 5G will arrive in those denser urban and high traffic areas as I’ve indicated.   While I’m happy to see that 5G has finally arrived, I am a little concerned about what you have to do to be able to access it.  I mean, who wants to carry around a portable device in order to create their own wi-fi network?  Isn’t that supposed to be the purpose of your phone?  I know that it isn’t a large device, but it feels like you have to carry a large backpack around with you in order to make this work.  Not to mention, that device will cost you $499.  Is 5G really worth that?

On top of that, the plan itself will cost you $70 a month, and you’re capped at 15GB of data each month. Again – I’m completely supportive, and a little excited that this kind of technology is finally available, but I’m not really sure that the cost is worth it right now.  5G will definitely offer a lot of benefits, but those benefits should be seen as eventual because you’re not going to get them right away.  That said, the eventual benefits are things like increased download and upload speeds, enable low-latency uses like fast-twitch multiplayer gaming, and eventually connect all kinds of “internet-of-things” devices to the network that aren’t practical with today’s network.

5G is available to a select group of people for now, but these are just baby steps.  AT&T and Verizon both pledged to launch 5G in 2018, and both were able to make their deadline – kind of.  They made it in that 5G is now available.  But it’s not ready to be a household service just yet.  If you live in one of these cities, my question to you is whether or not you will upgrade now, or wait until it’s a bit more mainstream?  My guess is the latter, but if you do upgrade, we want to hear from you!