In a video published this week, T-Mobile President and CEO Mike Sievert discussed their “Connecting Heroes” program, which makes 5G access free of charge to public and nonprofit first responder agencies for 10 years.
“When we’re at our most vulnerable, first responders are there for us … and they are under more pressure today than ever before. Connecting Heroes is one way we’re saying ‘thank you’ in this critical time,” Sievert said. “People who save lives shouldn’t have to choose between life-saving equipment and wireless service. And with Connecting Heroes, they won’t have to. We’re not limiting this program to a few months or a year … first responders can get free service including 5G access, for a full decade.”
T-Mobile’s program is expected to save fire, EMS and police departments across the U.S. billions of dollars, eliminating network connectivity costs from their budgets. T-Mobile estimates the program could save $7.7 billion over the next 10 years if all eligible agencies opt in.
Xfinity Mobile, a division of Comcast, has launched 5G service which operates on Verizon’s network. The Verizon 5G network is available in parts of 34 markets nationwide, and where it isn’t available, the service will use Verizon LTE or Comcast Wi-Fi infrastructure.
New plan options were launched in conjunction with the 5G announcement. Pricing starts as low as $15 per month for up to 1GB of data, and residential users have the option to sign up for unlimited service for $45 per month (although speeds are scaled back after 20GB are used).
Rui Costa, Senior Vice President of Innovation & Customer Value Propositions at Comcast Cable said this about the launch: “From day one, Xfinity Mobile has been proud to be the only provider to empower customers to design a mobile plan that fit their needs, as well as have the flexibility to seamlessly switch between unlimited or per gig to save money. We’re excited to now extend that benefit with 5G data plans.”
In an interview with CNET’s Daily Charge podcast, AT&T CEO Jeff McElfresh discussed the network’s 5G rollout, including their plans to make 5G more accessible by offering more devices. “You should not assume that 5G is an exclusive capability for the most expensive handsets, and found only in the most expensive rate plans,” he said. AT&T plans to launch 15 devices with 5G capabilities this year.
McElfresh also discussed how AT&T may focus on serving business users, possibly by reserving access to AT&T’s fastest 5G network on the millimeter wave spectrum strictly for higher end plans. But he also noted that AT&T will “definitely be reactive to the way the market responds,” making changes to their offerings as 5G continues to develop.
AT&T, Verizon, and the newly-merged T-Mobile/Sprint carriers have all made big pushes on their respective 5G networks this year, but there is a fourth 5G provider that will give consumers another options soon: Dish Network. Based in Colorado and primarily known as a satellite TV provider, Dish has made a $1.4 billion deal to acquire Boost Mobile and is building a 5G network from scratch. Dish’s commitment to 5G was essential in T-Mobile and Sprint gaining approval to merge, as Dish promised to step in as the 4th major 5G provider in the US.
Dish chairman and co-founder Charlie Ergen discussed their Q1 financial report and their 5G plans this week, confirming that funding is not an issue and that they plan to “build a better network that’s less expensive and less expensive to operate and more flexible” than the other major carriers. “It’s Netflix versus Blockbuster,” he said.
Dish’s 5G network will be ready for a trial launch in one to-be-named US city by the end of 2020. Per their agreement with the US government, they must provide 5G coverage to at least 70% of the country by 2023 or incur penalties.
The iPhone 12 series of phones may not be available until a bit later than anticipated (it was reported earlier this week that they would be about a month delayed, largely due to coronavirus-related issues), but it looks like Apple will be making their 5G-capable iPhones affordable enough to appeal to the masses.
GSM Arena received leaked reports indicating that the premium models – the iPhone 12 Pro with 6.1-inch display and Pro Max with 6.7-inch display – will have the same pricetag as their iPhone 11 counterparts, $999 and $1099 respectively.
There are also lower cost options rumored, a standard iPhone 12 with 6.1-inch display expected to come in at $749, and a 5.4-inch variant expected at just $649.
All of the rumored models will include 5G, with no premium price added for that luxury!
Apple was expected to announce their new generation of iPhones, the 5G-capable iPhone 12 series, this fall, but new reports indicate they will be delaying production. Several analysts point to the coronavirus and the production involved with adding 5G connectivity as the cause for the delay. The latest report indicates that production is pushed back by about a month. The announcement may still occur in September as expected, but the phones may not be available to purchase right away.
The production of the 5G-capable iPhones seems to be the biggest issue causing the delay. As far back as January there were reports that Apple’s decision to create its own antenna package modules would delay its fastest 5G iPhone to December 2020 or January 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic is also impacting Apple, with reports about consumer demand and workforce issues being to blame.
Nextivity, manufacturer of Cel-Fi cellular amplifier products, has announced that their Go and Quatra products will receive software updates to allow for 5G support as carriers upgrade their networks. The updates apply to the Cel-Fi Quatra, Go-X, and Go-M products in the US. Users of these amplifiers will not need to make any changes – the changes required to support 5G will be made over-the-air (OTA) via Cel-Fi WAVE, the software platform that manages Cel-Fi products.
“We launched our 4G products when the networks had around 30% coverage in our markets, which proved to be a good entry point for us. We were early enough to catch the 4G wave but not so early that our equipment had to wait for the networks to catch up,” says Werner Sievers, CEO of Nextivity. “The 5G ecosystem is still in its infancy. With few exceptions, most of the world is still trying to figure out how everything fits together – but when they do, we’ll be ready.”
AT&T nearly doubled their 5G coverage this week, launching the service in 90 new markets around the country. AT&T 5G is now available in over 190 markets that cover 120 million people. Newly launched cities include Chicago, New Orleans, Sacramento, Seattle and Tampa. You can see the full list here.
These 190+ cities are covered with AT&T’s low-band 5G network, which launched late last year. AT&T’s faster mmWave network is available in much fewer areas, covering parts of just 35 cities.
AT&T continues to expand coverage, aiming for nationwide coverage this summer. “At a time when technology is proving to be even more essential for communication, AT&T customers can rest assured that our company is continuing to invest in our network and new technologies to make connection easier,” said Chris Sambar, EVP of Technology Operations.
Real-world 5G speeds have varied from a little faster than 4G LTE (T-Mobile) to 5-10x faster (Verizon), but in the future 5G networks utilizing mmWave technology should be able to provide speeds much, much faster than that. Samsung has achieved a new world record in recent lab testing, seeing speeds of 8.5Gbps – over 10 times the fastest speeds 5G users are experiencing right now.
Samsung performed their tests in a lab, using 800MHz of millimetre Wave (mmWave) spectrum combined with MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) technology. Hyunho Park, Samsung Senior Vice President, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, touted the importance of mmWave in 5G networks, saying “Samsung will continue to be at the forefront in advancing 5G mmWave technology. This successful demonstration proves mmWave’s potential to deliver new kinds of business use cases and open up opportunities for mobile operators. We look forward to building on this significant technical breakthrough to fuel our continuous journey towards an innovative and vibrant mmWave ecosystem.”
Fringe groups around the world have voiced concerns about the impact of 5G and other wireless technologies since 5G started being deployed, but misinformed conspiracy theorists have jumped to a new level recently by attributing the Coronavirus spread to 5G. Experts worldwide have repeatedly confirmed that there is NO health risk associated with 5G, but the conspiracy theories abound. Incorrect claims about 5G have been spreading around the internet, even leading to cellphone towers being attacked in the UK.
Social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube have now updated policies and issued statements indicating they will take action to reduce the spread of the inflammatory conspiracy theories. In a statement to USA TODAY, Facebook said that they are “taking aggressive steps to stop misinformation and harmful content from spreading on our platforms and connect people to accurate information about Coronavirus.” Twitter echoed the sentiment, adding that they will take action on accounts that post “content in relation to unverifiable claims which incite social unrest, widespread panic or large-scale disorder.” YouTube did not promise to remove 5G conspiracy theory videos, but they confirmed their commitment to reducing their visibility, saying: “we’re committed to providing timely and helpful information at this critical time, including raising authoritative content, reducing the spread of harmful misinformation.”