AT&T 5G Coverage and Plans
AT&T was first to market with its 5G network in December 2018. Since then, it’s expanded to offer a variety of speeds and networks nestled under its 5G umbrella. Let’s explore what AT&T offers in terms of 5G coverage, phone plans, roll-out schedule, and more.
AT&T 5G Coverage and Availability
AT&T’s 5G network coverage is split among its three types of 5G connectivity (more on those below). Its 5GE network—essentially an upgraded version of 4G LTE—currently serves over 550 markets. If your phone is compatible, you’ll see the 5GE icon when you’re within a coverage area.
For its 5G and 5G+ networks, you’ll need to be within range of specific hotspots offered in select cities. As of January 2020, customers within select areas of the following AT&T 5G cities can connect to low-band hotspots:
- Albany, GA
- Albany, NY
- Beaverhead County, MT
- Hamilton, OH
- Lancaster, PA
- Las Vegas
- Lincoln County, MT
- Los Angeles
- Madison County, VA
- Madera County, CA
- Monto County, CA
- New York City
- Raleigh County, WV
- Rochester, NY
- Ross County, OH
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- Santa Rosa, CA
- Springfield, OH
- State College
- Sussex County, NJ
- Washington D.C.
Previously limited to just business and developer access, 5G+ is now available within hotspots located in 23 U.S. cities. In the future, AT&T will add “innovation zones” in highly trafficked locations (like stadiums, universities, and shopping centers), similar to Verizon’s current 5G network rollout.
When Will AT&T Have 5G?
AT&T plans to expand its 5G coverage to meet nationwide availability in the first half of 2020. The carrier is also well on its way toward meeting its goal of enabling parts of 30 cities with 5G+ capability within the same time frame, and it aims to offer 15 5G phone models by the end of the year.
|Frequency spectrum||700 MHz||850 MHz||39 GHz|
|Average download speeds||9.7-50.2 Mbps||9.7-50.2 Mbps (up to 100 Mbps)||438-897 Mbps|
|Latency||31-49 ms||31-49 ms||9-12 ms|
Data correct as of 3/6/20.
Among the major carriers, AT&T is unique in that it offers three flavors of 5G:
- 5G Evolution (or 5GE) is essentially a rebranding of AT&T’s 4G LTE network. Using its existing infrastructure, the carrier offers slightly faster speeds (up to twice those of LTE) to a wider coverage area outside its targeted 5G cities. However, AT&T has stated that 5GE isn’t technically 5G service, as it doesn’t operate on a significantly different spectrum and in some cases provides slower speeds than LTE.
- 5G offers low-band 5G connectivity, similar to T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network. This version of 5G uses lower-spectrum radio waves (which the carrier calls its “Sub-6 GHz” spectrum) that are slower than lightning-fast millimeter waves, but also reach farther to create a wider coverage area—up to 2 miles, as opposed to millimeter waves’ distance of up to 1,000 feet. AT&T expects its initial 5G network to perform at similar speeds to its LTE network as improvements are made.
- 5G+ is AT&T’s fastest 5G, offering what many customers consider “real” 5G service. It operates on the same millimeter wave technology that Verizon’s 5G network is using for its entire network buildout. For now, AT&T is limiting 5G+ to select hotspots in a handful of U.S. cities.
5G Phone Plans with AT&T
Connecting to an AT&T 5G hotspot requires you to be on one of its higher-tier unlimited plans: Unlimited Extra ($75/month) or Unlimited Elite ($85/month). While there isn’t an extra fee for 5G access on these plans, AT&T has signaled that future access to its 5G network could require a 5G-specific phone plan.
In addition to one of its 5G-enabled unlimited plans, you’ll also need a 5G phone to get on AT&T’s 5G network.
|Carrier||Availability||Frequency||Speed||Plan Cost (1 line)|
|AT&T||Albany (GA), Albany (NY), Athens, Baltimore, Beaverhead County (MT), Binghamton, Birmingham, Boston, Bridgeport, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Columbus, Denver, Hamilton (OH), Indianapolis, Lancaster (PA), Las Vegas, Lincoln County (MT), Los Angeles, Louisville, Madison County (VA), Madera County (CA), Monto County (CA), Milwaukee, New York, Pittsburgh, Providence, Provo, Raleigh County (WV), Rochester (NY), Ross County (OH), San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa (CA), Springfield (OH), State College (PA), Sussex County (NJ), Worcester||5G: 850 MHz|
5G+: 39 GHz
|2x faster than LTE||$70-90/month|
|Verizon||Current: Atlanta, Boise, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Hampton Roads, Hoboken, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Omaha, Panama City, Phoenix, Providence, Salt Lake City, Sioux Falls, Spokane, St. Paul, Washington, D.C. |
Future: San Diego
|28 and 39 GHz||600–800 Mbps||Extra $10/month on top of unlimited plan cost—waived for limited time|
|Sprint||Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Washington, D.C.||2.5 GHz||155–255 Mbps||$70-$80/month|
|T-Mobile||5,000+ cities||600 MHz||30–100 Mbps||$60-85/month|
Data correct as of 1/16/20
AT&T’s 5G network is most closely on par with that of T-Mobile in terms of speed, though the Un-carrier is currently the only provider to offer nationwide 5G coverage. AT&T’s 5G+ speeds match those of Verizon’s 5G network, but remember that its 5G+ hotspots are limited to extremely select areas. Of the three major carriers, Sprint stands alone in using a mid-band spectrum to provide elevated speeds to its 5G consumers, faster than AT&T and T-Mobile’s low-band spectrums but slower than the highest frequency offered through Verizon.
5G Phones from AT&T
To take advantage of 5G speeds, you’ll need a 5G-capable phone (in addition to your 5G-enabled plan). AT&T currently offers a single phone designated for 5G, the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G. Other carriers offer a few additional 5G models, so expect to see more 5G phones from AT&T in the near future as it expands its 5G and 5G+ hotspots.
Because AT&T’s 5G Evolution network is essentially enhanced LTE, many standard smartphones are already capable of connecting to it when within range. These including the iPhone 8 through 11, the Samsung Galaxy S8 through S10+ and Note9 through Note10+.
Ready to make the jump to 5G? Browse through a selection of 5G-enabled phones from all of the major carriers, and find a plan that works for you.