AT&T is paving the way for 5G in the US, starting with an initial rollout in its Austin and Indianapolis markets later this year, the company announced at an event in San Francisco today. The telecom is calling this new high-speed network “5G Evolution,” and it’s supposed to reach initial top speeds of 400 Mbps, or about 40 times faster than a standard cellular data connection.
This isn’t true 5G, which is supposed to hit 1 Gbps. However, by the end of the year, AT&T says advancements in the network could allow for theoretical top speeds in the gigabit range, which would put mobile connections on par with fiber internet.
The initial steps toward 5G are part of AT&T’s broader network upgrade, an initiative it’s calling Network 3.0 — or Indigo for short. The idea is to use software advancements to make existing hardware more capable, so upgrade costs can come down and speeds can increase without AT&T having to rip up roads and make significant hardware investments.
Alongside its new 5G markets coming later this year, AT&T is also going to start testing a new gigabit Wi-Fi project it’s calling AirGig. That technology relies on traditional power lines to transmit data over the millimeter wave band, similar in ways to Aereo founder Chet Kanojia’s new company Starry. AT&T has plans to work with utility providers to trial AirGig in two markets later this year.