Just because AT&T is standing firm on its faux 5G marketing doesn't mean it's ignoring its real 5G deployment. In fact, it's stepping things up -- the carrier has announced that next-gen wireless service will come to Chicago and Minneapolis sometime in 2019. Two cities might not sound like much, but that's adding to the seven cities announced so far and potentially provides 5G speeds to millions more people before the year is over.
The news comes alongside some bragging about the 5G service that's already available. Some customers accessing millimeter wave 5G have reported speeds between 200Mbps to 400Mbps. While that's not what you'd call gigabit class, it does show that the technology can provide a clear edge over LTE in the right circumstances. Do be aware that these initial users are relying on mobile routers, though, and that performance with smartphones could vary.
As with other carriers, AT&T expects to have a nationwide 5G network in 2020 (early in the year, in this case). That's when you're most likely to notice the difference, we'd add. While you'll certainly see 5G smartphones from the likes of LG, OnePlus and Samsung, these are more likely to be premium-priced variants than everyday models. You'll already have to wait until 2020 before you can expect more affordable 5G phones, so it's only fitting that the coverage should be more substantial by that point.