Armed with a new set of radio standards from the regulatory body, 3GPP, AT&T recently announced plans on rolling out mobile 5G wireless service to 12 American markets in 2018. This news comes hot on the heels of their fixed 5G trials in Waco, Texas. ZDNet – among other sources – published this story earlier this week.

AT&T Globe

The AT&T Globe. Copyright AT&T.

So let’s take a closer look at the details of the AT&T announcement. Is mobile 5G coming to your city in 2018?

New 5G Radio Standards the Key to Faster Mobile Rollout

The fresh 3GPP radio standard for 5G is leading to faster deployment of the new wireless technology on a global basis. The standards group tweeted the good news in late December. “NSA 5G NR specs were approved today at RAN#78. Balazs Bertenyi, RAN chair, called it ‘an impressive achievement in a remarkably short time, with credit due particularly to the working groups’,” said their tweet.

A joint media release from practically every large telecommunications company in the world offered a hint at the future. “This standard completion is an essential milestone to enable cost-effective and full-scale development of 5G NR (New Radio), which will greatly enhance the capabilities of 3GPP systems, as well as facilitate the creation of vertical market opportunities,” the statement said.

Most notably, 3GPP introduced these new standards six months earlier than expected. This likely led to AT&T’s faster schedule for its own mobile 5G rollout.

AT&T’s Plans for 5G Wireless in 2018

Stating their 5G rollout plans for 2018 are ambitious, AT&T realizes the transformational potential provided by this new wireless technology. “With faster speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video, and more,” said the company’s president of Technology and Operations, Melissa Arnoldi.

AT&T’s 5G Evolution network technology is already installed in 23 markets all across the country. They expect to bring it to hundreds of new American markets this year. This state of the art network backbone is a predecessor for installing the mobile 5G service.

AT&T remains tightlipped about the 12 markets slated to receive mobile 5G in the coming year. The markets currently with the Evolution network tech in place include Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco, San Diego, Louisville, Nashville, and Pittsburgh, among others. With many more locales on the docket for 2018, predicting those “lucky 12” remains difficult.

So, stay tuned to Bandwidth Place, as we cover the emergence of 5G from AT&T, Verizon, and others.