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
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.