Moving on from GPRS to EDGE was pretty much a huge jump for mobile users, but the transition from EDGE to 3G proved to be a quantum leap for smartphone users. You were now able to stream YouTube videos (albeit in super low resolutions) without having to have the irritating ‘wait circle’ appear, and you could more or less get most of your mobile interaction done across various social media platforms without missing a beat. 4G or LTE has been a revelation, with High Definition (HD) videos streamed to smartphones and tablets in a smooth manner. What next after this? The logical naming convention would be to point to 5G networks, but in reality, how far are we from realizing 5G connectivity around the world, let alone in the US? AT&T claims that they are to “pave the way for the next generation of faster speeds” with this new product known as 5G Evolution.
5G Evolution? Will it bring true blue 5G standards to the masses? Actually not, as it is a simple rebranding exercise of its 4G offering. Can we say that this is misleading advertising? I am not too sure, but probably not since the legal eagles over at AT&T would have pored through volumes of law books to make sure that 5G Evolution will not, in any way, result in a lawsuit by consumers who think that they are actually enjoying next generation 5G speeds on their still-4G devices. Heck, there are no 5G-capable devices out there in the market just yet, and not anytime soon, either, so it makes perfect sense that having a 5G network right here, right now, is not going to do much, either.
Is this AT&T’s method of trying to pass itself off as an innovative company to the masses? Perhaps, and it would be interesting to see just how many people are going to take the bait. 5G Evolution is set to kick off in selected of Austin, Texas. The kicker? It will play nice only with the recently introduced Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone. AT&T has also promised to line up the 5G Evolution service in 20 metro areas before 2017 comes to a close, touting speeds that are double that of 4G LTE. The press release does come with a warning, citing that “forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially.”
Do take note that AT&T’s new 5G Evolution service will be different from that of LTE-U, with the latter being an ultrafast network technology which will function on a similar spectrum as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) already approved of LTE-U just last month, with T-Mobile rubbing its hands in glee to begin operating LTE-U networks later in 2017. Hence, it is not surprising that AT&T would launch a ‘pre-emptive’ strike such as this. The pieces also seem to come together with word that Verizon had managed to be the big winner in the latest bid for a huge 5G spectrum chunk, leaving AT&T in the dust. Does this mean the massive 5G launch in 2020 is still on track?