AT&T activates its 5G network in New York, but not for residential customers

AT&T 5G arrived in the Big Apple, but it's not for everyone not yet.

Angela Lang / CNET

AT&T activ 5G in New York City on Tuesday, August 6, but not yet available to ordinary consumers.

The new millimeter wave network, or what AT&T calls "5G +," is available in "some parts" of New York City. At its launch, AT&T acknowledges that the service will be in "initially limited areas" and a company spokesperson told CNET that the new service will be available first in areas "near and around the East Village, Greenwich Village and Gramercy Park."

AT&T has multiple versions of 5G and the 5G + call denotes its "taste" of very fast millimeter wave, but limited range. The company also has a "sub-6" spectrum that covers wider areas, but at slower speeds than simply calling "5G". Both forms of real 5G are different from 5GE, the name change of the improved but existing 4G network of AT&T currently available throughout the United States.

"Being a densely populated global business and entertainment center, New York will benefit greatly from access to 5G, and we have been eager to present the service here," said Amy Kramer, president of the AT&T New York region, in a release. "While our initial availability in New York is a limited introduction to the launch, we are committed to working closely with the city to extend coverage to more neighborhoods across the five boroughs."

Although limited in scope, New York becomes the twenty-first city where AT&T has deployed 5G, extending the company's initial leadership in the 5G race over Verizon (nine cities), T-Mobile (six) and Sprint (five) . However, those operators are allowing anyone to use their respective networks, not just selected companies or developers.

It is still unclear when AT&T will make 5G available to everyone, but the company plans to implement a nationwide 5G network in its broader "sub-6" spectrum in the "first half of 2020".

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