Sprint said faster mobile data service is now available for much of metro Atlanta’s northside, giving customers access to 5G technology that the industry says could open new frontiers for how smartphones and other wireless devices are used.
The big mobile providers, including AT&T and Verizon, have been in a race to roll out such service around the nation, and metro Atlanta has been among their targets. However, Sprint appears to be the first of the major wireless carriers to offer 5G locally over a broad area, from downtown Atlanta to Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and parts of Cobb County.
Still, to fully take advantage of the technology, customers will need new 5G-enabled phones or other wireless devices that are only now becoming available. Sprint said it will have new devices for sale this week.
Sprint’s new 5G system in metro Atlanta covers 150 square miles that’s home to more than half a million people. The area is mostly north of I-20 and inside I-285, with some service in portions outside the Perimeter.
“Every day, we are continuing to expand that coverage past metro Atlanta and into the rest of Georgia,” said Heather Campbell, Sprint’s regional network director in the South.
Sprint on Thursday also announced it has launched 5G service in parts of Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City. It said it will soon expand to parts of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
Speeds should average five times faster than the 4G LTE used by many mobile systems, and the 5G speeds likely will continue to increase, said Jay Bluhm, Sprint’s vice president of network development.
With 5G, customers “can do more and do it faster and get quicker response time,” he said, and use of mobile data service is expected to increase.
And just as the jump from 3G to 4G service opened up new mobile uses, industry watchers are expecting a dramatic jump in how consumers use their devices with 5G service and in business innovations.
“It is the launch of a new technology that inspires innovation,” Campbell said.
There’s competition to provide the service locally.
AT&T, through an emailed statement, said it already offers what it calls “5G+” in “multiple iconic locations throughout the city.”
AT&T’s service isn’t yet available over wide areas of metro Atlanta.
Verizon does not yet offer 5G service in Atlanta but said it expects to do so by the end of the year. T-Mobile, which is seeking regulatory approval to merge with Sprint, said it will have 5G service in place nationwide by 2020. It hasn’t provided a specific roll-out time for Atlanta.
Georgia political leaders recently sought to ease the technology’s expansion by creating statewide regulations for mobile companies to set up 5G equipment on government property.
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