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AT&T Extends 5G Network Service to Houston Consumers

The company has had a 5G network up and running in Houston since late 2018, but it was by invitation only to business users. This is the first time it will be made available to consumers and all businesses.

by Dwight Silverman, Houston Chronicle / July 24, 2020
Downtown Houston. (Shutterstock)

(TNS) — AT&T finally opened up its 5G network in Houston on Thursday, becoming the last of the big wireless carriers to offer the next-generation data service here.

The service went live in 40 additional markets, including others in Texas, and is now available in 395 markets across the United States, the company said in a news release. AT&T’s flavor of 5G combines both super-fast millimeter wave service, which can’t penetrate objects and has a shorter range, with so-called “sub-6” spectrum that travels farther but isn’t as fast.

AT&T has had a 5G network up and running in Houston since late 2018, but it was by invitation only to business users. This is the first time it will be made available to consumers and all businesses.

According to the release, the company will offer its 5G access to its consumer Unlimited plans starting Aug. 7. Consumer 5G service will be available without additional cost to customers on its Unlimited Starter, Extra and Elite plans. For business users, 5G will be available on Unlimited Web-Only, Starter, Performance and Elite plans.

Phones that support the service include Samsung’s Galaxy S20 line of smartphones and Note 10+ 5G phone; the Galaxy A71 5G; and LG’s V60 ThinQ 5G, and Velvet 5G.

Both T-Mobile and Verizon have active 5G networks available here. T-Mobile’s operates in the sub-6 spectrum, but it is incorporating faster service acquired in its acquisition of Sprint. Verizon offers only millimeter wave service in Houston, but at only a few locations around town.

An AT&T spokesperson said the speeds of the company’s sub-6 variant of 5G is not that different from its 4G LTE service. The millimeter wave version is much faster, capable of reaching speeds of 2 gigabits per second. By contrast, AT&T’s median speed test score in a recent survey by U.S. Market Report was about 30 megabits a second for downloads.

Other Texas markets where AT&T’s 5G is now available include Chambers County, San Antonio, Atascosa County, Edwards County, Laredo, Corpus Christi, Burleson County and Cherokee County.

AT&T brands the components of its 5G service with different names. Its slower, sub-6 spectrum is called 5G, while the millimeter wave feature is 5G Plus. AT&T has been criticized for calling an enhanced version of its 4G LTE service 5G Evolution and displaying a “5G E”icon on users’ smartphones, with critics calling it misleading. AT&T has agreed to quit using the phrase in advertising, but the icon remains.

©2020 the Houston Chronicle, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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