Blazing 5G network speeds are no longer just a pipe dream. AT&T just announced plans to launch its first "5G Evolution Markets" this year, which will allow customers in Austin and Indianapolis to enjoy ultra-fast wireless connectivity from their smartphones.
The carrier's 5G networks will start at "theoretical peak speeds" of 400 MBps, which is notably quicker than what you'd normally get on 4G networks. But AT&T's ultimate goal is to bring those speeds up to 1 GBps by the end of the year, which could make your phone's wireless service rival the high-speed internet you might have at home.
AT&T's 5G rollout is part of its new "Network 3.0 Indigo" platform, which also introduces some behind-the-scenes software changes that will allow facilities such as hospitals and research centers to quickly and securely share data.
According to AT&T, 5G isn't just about being able to load web pages instantly or download full movies to your phone in seconds. The company's press release notes that the "massive bandwidth and low latency" of 5G will help power virtual reality and augmented reality experiences on mobile, as well as strengthen the capabilities of self-driving cars.
In addition to its limited consumer rollout, AT&T will continue to run 5G tests at its labs in Austin. These will include trials that measure how well the service works both indoors and outdoors, as well as how capable it is of streaming AT&T's DirecTV Now service at high quality.
AT&T customers in Austin and Indianapolis should be able to try 5G "in the coming months," though the carrier didn't specify what devices will work with the network or when to expect it in other cities. Still, for a technology once expected to launch in 2020, 5G networking seems to be progressing nicely, and could unlock a ton of new potential in our smartphones and beyond.