AT&T says its 5G network is now available 'nationwide'

Specifically, it's available to more than 200 million people in the US.

Ronald Martinez via Getty Images

AT&T has hit a milestone in its 5G network rollout. As of this morning, the carrier says that its network is officially available nationwide — by the FCC’s guidelines, that means it’s available to more than 200 million people in the US. Specifically, AT&T added 40 new markets today, which brings it to a total of 395 markets that cover 205 million people. That puts AT&T a bit behind T-Mobile, which launched its 5G network nationwide in December of last year. They’re still far ahead of Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) though — Verizon’s “ultra wideband” 5G coverage is still only available in 35 cities around the US.

Of course, “5G” doesn’t mean the same thing from carrier to carrier. Verizon’s ultra wideband network uses the notably faster mmWave technology, while T-Mobile and AT&T primarily use mid- and low-band 5G to achieve their nationwide coverage. Verizon hasn’t deployed anything in those spectrums yet, which is why their 5G network is so limited in range — mmWave doesn’t have nearly the same reach. AT&T and T-Mobile both complement their networks with mmWave, but they’re also much more limited in reach.

Regardless, being able to tout a nationwide 5G network gives AT&T a marketing term it can trumpet over Verizon. (Don’t let them fool you into thinking you need to upgrade your phone immediately, though.) But most people don’t have a 5G-capable phone yet, so don’t expect to instantly see upgraded speeds at this point. More and more manufacturers are making affordable 5G phones for the US, including Android giant Samsung, so we’re getting closer to the 5G puzzle being complete. That’s especially true when you consider that Apple might jump on the 5G bandwagon this fall, as well.