WAILEA, Hawaii — As we get closer to wireless carriers bringing their next-generation 5G networks online, the possibility of 5G-capable smartphones are grabbing most of the attention. And while the attention is understandable — especially with the likes of Verizon and AT&T both announcing plans for a 5G phone with Samsung — phones won't be the only way you can hop on 5G's faster speeds.
Mobile hotspots will also have 5G connectivity. And we've seen a pair in action this week at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Tech Summit here in Maui.
Wireless hotspots from Netgear and Inseego figured heavily in the 5G demos AT&T and Verizon put on as part of Qualcomm's 5G-focused summit. And while we didn't see the kinds of speeds being touted for commercial 5G networks — blame that on hastily assembled networks being brought out for demo purposes — it did serve as an introduction to some faster networking devices you can expect to see in 2019.
Hotspots are a key part of the 5G picture because of the way carriers are going about building out their next-generation networks. Verizon, for example, has launched a home 5G service first before its brings its mobile 5G network live ine early 2019. AT&T, which is on track to launch 5G service in 12 cities by year's end, has already said that a mobile hotspot, not a phone, would be its first 5G-capable device.
That device has turned out to be Netgear's Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, which played a role in some of AT&T's demos here in Maui. This new hotspot has all the bands you'll find on Netgear's LTE hotspot, with 5G built on top of it. The hotspot is capable of 5 Gbps where there's wireless spectrum that supports those eye-popping speeds. The hotspot also has dual-band Wi-Fi.
Verizon, meanwhile, announced today (Dec. 4) that it's teaming up with Inseego on a 5G mobile hotspot that will be available in 2019. Inseego's hotspot features the newly unveiled Snapdragon 855 mobile processor as well as Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 modem. Inseego's hotpot is also Wi-Fi 6-ready so it will support that new wireless network standard as it becomes available.
No prices have been set for either hotspot.
Image Credits: Tom's Guide