While 5G network testing has begun in some areas — including in Austin — the United States as a whole isn’t expected to get a national network improvement until sometime between 2020 and 2021.
“5G” refers to the fifth generation of wireless broadband technology, an upgrade to the 4G network currently used nation-wide. 5G is expected to be nearly 100 times faster than existing 4G technology, and many nations plan to start expanding as soon as the technology is widely available.
Locally, some companies have already started using 5G test sites in the U.S. to try and get a leg up on their competition. Earlier this year, AT&T opened a 5G testing lab in North Austin. The tests conducted at the site help simulate 5G connectivity in a variety of real-world environments before products are officially rolled out to the public.
“Killeen has not been selected (as a trial city) at this point,” Killeen Chamber of Commerce President John Crutchfield said. “5G trials are controlled by AT&T nationally, who selects the city for installation.
According to the Associated Press, Verizon also rolled out a 5G wireless broadband service in four cities in October using its own proprietary technology rather than industry-based standards. This residential service is meant to compete with cable rather than offer cellular connectivity outside the home. Verizon plans to update the equipment once standards-based devices are available, but there’s no timeline for that.
Mae Anderson with the Associated Press contributed to this report.