Prior to Thursday’s announcement, the slower 5G network from AT&T was available to everyone, but the limited mmWave network, faster than the other 5G network, was only available to businesses.
The move comes at the same time as the release of the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra phones, set to come out on Friday — although those shopping for a new Samsung phone should be aware that the regular Galaxy S20 only runs on the slower 5G network as opposed to mmWave.
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are all rolling out two options of the 5G network, which has been confusing as it comes out from various sources. AT&T and T-Mobile are currently putting out a faster mmWave network that works within range of a block or so of a capable tower. While the lower-band 5G networks aren’t as fast, they are more widely available. Verizon doesn’t have the lower-band network available yet.
Sprint is focusing on a mid-band 5G network between the two options, and T-Mobile wants to acquire it for that reason.
But AT&T customers who buy a Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra on Friday will have access to the next level speed of the mmWave network in parts of 35 cities where AT&T has rolled out the network. Customers should see speeds up to 20 times faster than the standard 4G connection, according to AT&T. Movies will be able to be downloaded in just a few seconds.
When the mmWave isn’t available, the phones will fall back to the normal 5G network, which covers 80 million people around the U.S.
5G has been taking off across a spectrum of companies, and it has been used for things such as health centers.