So you want to get some of that super fast, super low latency 5G goodness? AT&T has just announced pricing for their upcoming services to several US cities, and it doesn’t look too great.

The crux of the deal starts with a $500 one-off fee for a Netgear Wireless Hotspot, which is the one we saw at the Qualcomm Tech Summit a couple of weeks ago. This device converts a 5G signal into an 802.11ac/802.11ax wireless hotspot, or can be tethered through a USB 3.1 5 Gbps connection. Inside is a battery, as well as a Snapdragon 855 SoC and X50 modem that will convert the 5G signal. In speaking with the mobile hotspot providers, they expect ‘a full day battery’ with their devices, but Netgear declined to say how big the battery was or hard numbers.

The Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot

On top of the $500 fee is the data plan. To start, AT&T will offer a $70/month data plan for 15 GB (with no annual committment). So despite the promise of 5G being fast, that data cap is going to go quick for anyone that wants to download a few movies. One of the use cases given to us for 5G at the Tech Summit was the ability to pull down a few seasons of a favorite show on Netflix while boarding a plane. If that’s the case, it might only be valid once or twice in a month.

To start, AT&T will only offer the 5G network to select businesses and customers for the first 3 months, before offering it to all customers in the Spring. Initially the service will be available in the following cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Jacksonville, Fla
  • Louisville, KY
  • Oklahoma City
  • New Orleans
  • Raleigh, NC
  • San Antonio
  • Waco, TX

The following cities will be enabled through the first half of 2019:

  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Nashville
  • Orlando
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose, CA

The initial offering will make 5G available as a hotspot service only, meaning that users will have to purchase a compatible 5G mobile hotspot for it to work (and only Netgear makes ones that will work with AT&T so far).

No word was given as to the speed of AT&T’s 5G network, however it will be part of its 39 GHz mmWave spectrum. To differentiate between 5G on mmWave and 5G on sub-6 GHz bands, AT&T is using the ‘5G+’ branding for its mmWave technology.  This is going to be a fun exercise in branding.

Source: AT&T

At AT&T's 5G Demos at the Qualcomm Tech Summit, Dec 2018


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  • Valantar - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    While the concept of a "global 1%" is definitely of value, it really doesn't apply when discussing domestic services that are (at least theoretically) priced in alignment with the cost of living and income level of that country. While there is obviously such a thing as absolute poverty on a global scale, poverty is also highly relative. Someone working two or three minimum-wage jobs in the US and barely managing to make ends meet is still relatively well off on a global scale, but there's still no doubt they are poor. Whether you have a higher income than x% of the population in foreign country A doesn't say anything about your ability to feed yourself and your family or afford the necessities of life. This is particularly true in high cost of living countries that also have levels of high socioeconomic inequality, a scale on which the US is among the "top" countries globally. Also, which services are necessary to pay for can vary wildly between countries.

    While 5G service is hardly a necessity (frankly I don't see why it's really needed given that 4G can do 4k streaming and high-bandwidth downloads just fine), broadband internet service is, and the US has a well-earned reputation for terrible and expensive broadband access. Even counting early-adopter tax, $70 a month for 15GB is atrocious. Here in Norway, mobile internet is far more expensive than our neighbouring countries (partly 'cause we have a lot of mountains, so getting good coverage is expensive, but for other reasons too), but you can still get a plan with unlimited data for NOK 500, or around $58. And while our median income is lower than the US, our cost of living is higher, so it really ought to be the other way around. In Finland, you can get an unlimited data plan for around $25. So: US pricing is atrocious. Period. And this 5G plan is particularly bad.
  • ajp_anton - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    I live in Finland. Here you pay for speed, data caps don't exist. With 1Mbit for $5 you're effectively capped at 300GB, but you can get 100Mbit for around $15.
  • Santoval - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    Can we switch homes and countries please? At least for one year? :)
  • surt - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Not that I think it matters, but the upper echelons have a well documented history of inbreeding problems.
  • PeachNCream - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    That sort of thing is illegal in the US. I don't see any modern examples and I'd imagine that if you account for historic examples and had a complete picture of the data, you'd find an equal problem among the masses for such activity as well and that activity persists more commonly among lower income levels in isolated places like West Virginia, Texas, or panhandle Florida, but not among the modern 1%.
  • FunBunny2 - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    -- That sort of thing is illegal in the US.

    it was satire/sarcasm, of course. the point being only morons (classic side effect of inbreeding) with lots of money will sign up for such a turkey. as to historical inbreeding among the Upper Crust, oh boy howdy, sure has been!! OTOH, there's "Deliverance".
  • PeachNCream - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    Ah, gotcha. I'm sorry for missing that so badly. Probably need to replace the batteries in my sarcasm detector.
  • Retired Budget Gamer - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    Came out of retirement to say the only person that could afford this would be someone in the 1%, however only someone who is in the 1% and is inbred would actually pay for it.
  • fred666 - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Nobody, that's the whole point.
    This way they can brag being "first" with 5G and continue to test it. Since there will only be either 0 or 1 user per tower, the initial speed will be good. When the device doesn't fall back to LTE, of course.
  • Kepe - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    15 GB/mo, that's hilarious :D In the last six months I've used, on average, over 330 GB/mo on my desktop PC alone (I have an LTE modem). Add to that my TV, laptop, PS4 and tablet. On my phone, I've used 25 GB in the past 18 days of this month, and that's just Netflix, Youtube, social media and some web browsing. How can anyone survive with 15 GB/mo in this day and age?
    My phone's plan has unlimited data at 200 Mbit/s, unlimited calls and unlimited texts for 19 €/mo (21,5 USD including taxes). Why do ppl in the US put up with this crap? Oh yeah, government control of anything is "socialism" so I guess that's what the freedom of capitalism and price fixing costs you...

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