This week AT&T announced Jacksonville will be one of five additional cities in the U.S. to get its next-generation 5G before the end of the year.
"We’re at the dawn of something new that will define the next decade and generation of connectivity,” said Andre Fuetsch, chief technology officer for AT&T Communications, in a news release.
AT&T plans the first deployments in “pockets of dense areas – where demand on our network is high and extra capacity and coverage is needed most.”
CNET reports AT&T has been getting about 1,000 megabits per second in its 5G testing.
To put that in perspective, Open Signal reported AT&T’s current 4G network has an average download speed of 15.08 Mbps.
There's been some confusion in the industry over what constitutes "5G" service. For example, AT&T is also rolling out a service in many cities - including Jacksonville - that it calls 5G Evolution.
But that service is much slower than the 5G service coming to Jacksonvlle later this year. AT&T says its 5G Evolution service is theoretically capable of up to 400 Mbps.
Technology news outlets such as BGR have taken AT&T to task for attaching the 5G label to that service because its based on curent LTE technology, which is actually part of the slower 4G framework.
As for the next generation of 5G, look for it to bring with it lots of innovation, Fuetsch said.
“Future smart factories and retailers, self-driving cars, untethered virtual and augmented realities, and other yet to be discovered experiences will grow up on tomorrow’s 5G networks. Much like 4G introduced the world to the gig economy, mobile 5G will jumpstart the next wave of unforeseen innovation,” said Fuetsch.
The transportation industry is likely to be one of the biggest 5G benefactors. Many new cars are already 4G connected for over-the-air software updates and internet radio streaming.
Tesla, for example, rolled out an over-the-air software update earlier this year that improved braking performance by up to 20 feet on its Model 3 and regularly updates the software of its cars remotely.
In addition to near-instant downloads and higher quality videos, AT&T smartphone users will see gaming get a big boost on the new network.
NVIDIA and Ericsson have demoed a potential 5G use case for gaming, showing a cloud-based playthrough of the upcoming game Shadow of the Tomb Raider over a live 5G mobile signal to demonstrate how powerful computer and graphics capabilities in the network could someday power high-end gaming that currently require hardware like a PC, Xbox or Playstation.
Faster smartphone processors and 5G could also effectively spell the end of desktop PCs with the exception of processor intensive tasks like CAD design and video editing.
Microsoft is working on a project called Andromeda that – if launched - would put Windows 10 in a foldable dual screen smartphone-like device that would also serve as a full PC when connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Samsung already offers a similar idea on some of its single screen Android smartphones with its Dex software and docking station.
But current smartphones and hotspots can’t receive 5G. New smartphones capable of receiving 5G aren’t expected until 2019 at the earliest.
Houston, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio are the other cities on this week's list for AT&T 5G buildouts this year. Earlier, AT&T announced Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, and Waco, Texas, are also getting 5G.