AT&T Launches 5G Network in 10 Cities

AT&T today announced that it has launched its 5G network in its first ten markets: Birmingham, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. AT&T has PDF maps of coverage areas within these cities in its press release, and the carrier is aiming for nationwide 5G coverage in the first half of next year.


For the time being, customers with the new Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G will be able to access AT&T's 5G network, with more devices coming in the future. Apple is expected to launch its first 5G iPhones next year, likely in its usual September timeframe.

The 5G network AT&T is launching today is for the sub-6GHz spectrum, which offers broad coverage at speeds that are a step up from LTE. A separate flavor of 5G operates on the mmWave spectrum and offers even faster speeds but with shorter range, and is thus best suited for very dense, highly trafficked areas. AT&T refers to its mmWave 5G service as 5G+, and it launched in pockets of 12 markets almost exactly a year ago.

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes there will be four flagship 2020 iPhones next September, with all of them capable of supporting both sub-6Hz and mmWave 5G technology in select markets such the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Other countries will see only sub-6Hz support, while 5G may be disabled entirely in other countries where 5G isn't widely available, in order to reduce Apple's costs.

AT&T was of course notorious for branding some of its enhanced 4G LTE network as "5G Evolution" or "5GE," which began appearing in the iPhone status bar with iOS 12.2, confusing some users who thought they were able to access true 5G networks.

Tags: AT&T, 5G

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Review: AT&T’s Power Drum Can Charge Your Apple Watch and Another Qi Device on the Go, but Phones Are a Bit of a Balancing Act

Ever since the Apple Watch launched in 2015, we've seen countless products that save up some counter or desktop space by letting you charge your ‌Apple Watch‌ and iPhone in one spot. There are numerous versions of this type of accessory, and now AT&T has released its own with the Power Drum.

The Power Drum is a cylindrical charger with a small 3-inch footprint that houses a built-in ‌Apple Watch‌ charger and is topped with a Qi-compatible wireless charging surface (subtly designed with the AT&T logo). The Power Drum can be used as a desktop charger through the included micro-USB charging cable, or on-the-go thanks to a 3,000 mAh internal battery.


There are a few things that work for the Power Drum, but to start with its most glaring issue, the accessory is just too small to reliably use as a wireless charger for the ‌iPhone‌. With just a 2-inch base to place your ‌iPhone‌ on (the top portion is smaller than the foot of the Power Drum), placing my iPhone 11 Pro Max on the Power Drum every night for the past week or so always felt like a risk.

Going about this process is frustrating because I had to not only aim for the Qi hotspot on my ‌iPhone‌, but also ensure that the ‌iPhone‌ was properly balanced on the Power Drum at the same time. The right wireless charging position typically never aligned with the perfect balancing position, and it always left me uncertain about leaving my brand-new ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ dangling above the stand for any length of time.


In terms of ‌iPhone‌ charging, I found the Power Drum to offer the typical wireless charging performance. It trickle charged my ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ at a solid rate overnight, but on a few occassions I did notice charging stopped before my ‌iPhone‌ was topped off. As a mobile battery, the Power Drum just isn't sensible for the Pro Max. Its 3,000 mAh battery can offer a bit of charge to the 3,969 mAh battery on the Pro Max, but once you account for the efficiency loss of wireless charging, the Power Drum doesn't come close to fully charging the smartphone.

AT&T's accessory makes more sense as an ‌Apple Watch‌ charger in both desktop and mobile formats. I was able to charge my ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 5's ~300 mAh battery multiple times without needing to fuel up the Power Drum. This makes the accessory a solid ‌Apple Watch‌ charger for places where a cord is unable to reach, like a bathroom countertop, but it is something you'll have to remember to charge up every few days.


The Power Drum separates into two parts, including a rubberized base and the central drum-shaped battery. Under the base are inserts sized for each version of the ‌‌Apple Watch‌‌, helping to make sure your ‌Apple Watch‌ lines up with the charging puck on the front of the Power Drum.


The drum simply nests into the base, allowing you to place your ‌Apple Watch‌ around the drum and use Nightstand Mode, but I never found the two pieces were secured together enough. Easy disassembly will make packing it for travel less of a pain, but could also result in lost parts (particularly those ‌Apple Watch‌ case sizing inserts).


AT&T intends you to charge an ‌Apple Watch‌ and smartphone simultaneously, but I found the device to be more useful as an ‌Apple Watch‌ and AirPods charger. The Qi mat is just big enough for the AirPods Pro to fit, so it's less of a risk than placing your ‌iPhone‌ on the top of the mat.

This makes the Power Drum a convenient home hub for your Apple accessories if you have a nearby outlet to keep it constantly plugged in. Still, even with my ‌AirPods Pro‌ I had to occasionally shift the ‌AirPods‌ around to find the right charging spot on the Power Drum.

Bottom Line


There are aspects to the design of the Power Drum that work, but AT&T's overall execution of the device is lacking. Charging your ‌iPhone‌ on the accessory is simply not a good idea, so you'll really only want to look into it if you have an ‌Apple Watch‌ and another, smaller Qi-supported device like the ‌AirPods‌.


But at $99.99 ($59.99 on sale), there just aren't enough positive aspects of the Power Drum to recommend it. For those interested in learning more, you can find the Power Drum on AT&T's website.

Note: AT&T provided MacRumors with the Power Drum for the purpose of this review, and no other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with AT&T. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Tag: AT&T

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AT&T Unlimited &More Premium Wireless Plan Bundles Spotify Premium at No Extra Cost

After partnering with Hulu, Spotify today announced that it will bundle its Premium plan with AT&T's most expensive wireless offering. Specifically, if you pay for AT&T's Unlimited &More Premium plan, you'll have the option to get a Spotify Premium monthly subscription at no extra cost (via Variety).


AT&T's Unlimited &More Premium plans start at $80 monthly per line, and if you are an existing Spotify Premium customer who has &More Premium, you'll be able to keep your current Spotify account when signing up for the offer.

Spotify is one of seven options in AT&T's entertainment bundle, and customers can also choose one of the following as their free add-on: HBO, Cinemax, VRV, Showtime, Starz, or Pandora.
“We continue to build relationships with world-class partners like AT&T to bring our Spotify Premium product to new audiences in the U.S. and across the globe,” Marc Hazan, Spotify’s VP of premium partnerships, said in a statement.
AT&T will also offer select wireless customers a six-month free trial of Spotify Premium. According to AT&T, this is the beginning of an "ongoing collaboration" with Spotify, which just reached 108 million paid subscribers around the world as of June.

The new AT&T entertainment bundle with Spotify Premium will be available from tomorrow, August 6.

Tags: Spotify, AT&T

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AT&T Named 2019’s Fastest U.S. Mobile Network in Annual PCMag Carrier Showdown

AT&T is the fastest mobile network in the United States according to PCMag's latest annual mobile network comparison, which was released this morning.

For the test, PCMag employees drove through 30 cities and 25 states across the U.S. and ran more than 60,000 mobile speed tests to determine the speediest mobile network. The tests were conducted using Samsung Galaxy S10 devices on networks from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.


This year, AT&T edged out Verizon, the winner for the past five years, thanks to AT&T's focus on improving its LTE network in preparation for 5G technology. While all four networks improved overall on both speed and reliability compared to last year, AT&T improved a bit more than the others.


AT&T won or tied for first place in 15 of the 30 cities tested, and it tied or came out on top in all rural regions. AT&T was on top overall in the northwest, southwest, north central, and northeast, while Verizon won in the south central region and T-Mobile came out ahead in the southeast.


AT&T has been making improvements to its 4G network and has been labeling those 4G enhancements as "5GE," but really it's the same 4G LTE technology offered by other wireless companies as well. Still, these efforts to improve the 4G network ahead of 5G have led to overall speed boosts for AT&T customers.

The full results of PCMag's 2019 mobile carrier speed testing can be found over on the PCMag website.


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FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices

The United States Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday sent out letters to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint questioning the carriers about their data selling practices, reports Motherboard.

The carriers have been found selling real-time location information from customer devices to data aggregators, leading the location data to end up in the hands of private investigators, bounty hunters, law enforcement, credit companies, and more.


Companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo obtained location information from U.S.-based cellular carriers and passed that data on to dozens of other companies, putting real-time customer location information in the hands of those who should not have it.

After coming under scrutiny for their location sharing practices, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, pledged to stop doing so, but many had not actually stopped entirely as of January.

The FCC is now demanding answers from the four carriers. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked the heads of each company to provide details on whether the data aggregators were allowed to save phone location data and what steps carriers are going to take to make sure shared data has been deleted. From the letter to AT&T:
Real-time location information is sensitive data deserving the highest level of privacy protection. But it is evident from press reports that this data may have been sold without the explicit consent of consumers and without appropriate safeguards in place.

Accordingly, I appreciate your decision to end these location aggregation services by March of this year. To that end, I kindly request that you provide an update on your efforts and confirm by what date AT&T ended its arrangements to sell the location data of its customers. Please also confirm whether and by what date the company ended arrangements to sell assisted or augmented GPS data.

Finally, the public still has very little detail about how much geolocation data is being saved and stored-including in ways that may be far too accessible to others. Even de-anonymized location data may be combined with other information in ways that could make it personally identifiable again. Accordingly, please explain whether AT&T's agreements permitted aggregators or others to save and store location data they received from your company. If so, please confirm what steps your company is taking to ensure that these companies delete or destroy previously shared data and any derivative data. Alternatively, please explain what steps AT&T is taking to safeguard such data from use or onward sale that is inconsistent with consumers' original content.
Similar letters were also sent to Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and all four carriers have been asked to provide responses to the FCC by May 15, 2019.


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AT&T CEO Believe 5G Phone Plans Could Be Tiered and Priced on Data Speed

The next couple of years will see the rollout of 5G cellular phone networks from companies like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and it sounds like 5G smartphone plans might not be priced in the same way as current 4G LTE plans.

During today's AT&T earnings call, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said (via The Verge) that he believes the pricing for 5G connectivity could resemble home broadband pricing with different prices for different speed tiers rather than one set price for the fastest connectivity available.

"I will be very surprised if, as we move into wireless, the pricing regime in wireless doesn't look something like the pricing regime you see in fixed line. If you can offer a gig speed, there are some customers that are willing to pay a premium for 500 meg to a gig speed, and so forth. So I expect that to be the case. We're two to three years away from seeing that play out."
5G networks are still in the early days, so how pricing will ultimately work out remains to be seen. It's also not clear how variable pricing for tiered speeds would work given the fact that 5G connections speeds are going to vary depending on whether you're in a city or in a more rural area.

The fastest 5G speeds, available through mmWave technology, will be limited to urban areas. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg this week explained that millimeter wave high-frequency spectrum isn't suitable for widespread coverage, a sentiment shared by T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, who wrote a blog post on the subject earlier this week.
Some of this is physics - millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn't travel far from the cell site and doesn't penetrate materials at all. It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.
AT&T has launched its 5G network in a handful of markets across the United States, and other carriers, like Verizon, have also been starting their 5G network rollouts.

There are few smartphones that are able to take advantage of 5G networks at the current time, but additional 5G smartphones are expected later in 2019.

Rumors suggest Apple's first 5G iPhone will come out in 2020, when 5G networks are more mature and more widely available. Apple is planning to use chips from Qualcomm and perhaps Samsung now that Intel is out of the 5G smartphone modem chip business.

Tags: AT&T, 5G, 5G iPhone

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AT&T and Sprint Settle Lawsuit Over Misleading ‘5GE’ Label for AT&T’s 4G Network

AT&T and Sprint have settled a lawsuit that Sprint levied against AT&T for its misleading "5G Evolution" or "5GE" branding that AT&T uses for its upgraded 4G LTE network.

A spokesperson for AT&T today told Law360 that the matter has been "amicably settled." Details on the terms of the settlement have not been shared, but AT&T is planning to continue to use its 5GE branding.


AT&T earlier this year began displaying a 5GE icon on some iPhone and Android smartphones. 5GE is AT&T's misleading name for an enhanced 4G LTE network and is not actual 5G connectivity, which incensed Sprint.

After AT&T rolled out the 5GE terminology, Sprint filed a lawsuit in federal court against AT&T in an attempt to prevent AT&T from using 5GE labeling. Sprint accused AT&T of damaging the consumer reputation and understanding of true 5G and potentially hurting Sprint's planned 5G rollout this summer.

Sprint also took out a full page ad in The New York Times to call AT&T out for the misleading labeling, calling 5GE "fake 5G." From Sprint's ad:
While Sprint is working hard to deliver mobile 5G and the first 5G smartphone in the U.S., AT&T is hard at work trying to convince you that they already won the race to 5G with something they call "5G Evolution." That is simply untrue.

Don't be fooled. 5G Evolution isn't new or true 5G. It is fake 5G.

They would love for you to believe they are different ... better. The truth is AT&T is simply offering customers a nationwide 4G LTE network just like Sprint and all the other major wireless carriers. It's not 5G.
AT&T uses 5GE for its 4G LTE networks that offer features like three-way carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO to provide faster connection speeds to consumers. These features are in no way limited to AT&T and are offered by other carriers, but no other carrier is using fake 5G branding.

Unsurprisingly, speed tests have confirmed that AT&T's 5GE service is no faster than LTE from Verizon and T-Mobile.

AT&T has defended its 5GE branding by calling 5G Evolution "first step on the road to 5G" and by claiming that customers "love" the 5GE branding because they "want and deserve to know" when "better speeds" are available.
"We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it. We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. 5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available. That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers.
Smartphones that support true 5G connectivity are only now just beginning to trickle out, and Apple isn't expected to launch one until 2020. No existing iPhone will be able to connect to a 5G network because it requires new hardware.

5G networks from the four major carriers in the United States are going to be available starting in 2019, but expanded coverage and full rollouts will take some time.


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Deals Spotlight: AT&T Offering iPhone XR at No Cost When You Buy a New iPhone on AT&T Next

AT&T this week is offering customers the chance to buy one iPhone and get another at no extra cost, as long as both are purchased on an AT&T Next installment plan with an eligible wireless line. iPhones eligible for the offer include: iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, XR, XS, or XS Max (priced up to $1,449.99).

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with AT&T. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

With the deal, if you buy one of these iPhones then AT&T will give you up to $750 in credits, which will cover the entire cost of an iPhone 8, 64GB iPhone 8 Plus, or 64GB iPhone XR. You can also choose to put the $750 credit towards a 256GB iPhone 8 Plus, 128GB or 512GB iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone XS, or iPhone XS Max.

The credit will start within three bill cycles, and AT&T will send catch-up credits once it starts. The credit will be applied monthly over the entire agreement term. This includes either AT&T Next for 30 months or AT&T Next Every Year for 24 months.

AT&T's offer ends on Sunday, March 31, so if you're interested head to the carrier's website to browse for a new iPhone. More deals and discounts can be found in our full Deals Roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
Tag: AT&T

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AT&T’s ‘5GE’ Service No Faster Than LTE From Verizon and T-Mobile

Starting with the iOS 12.2 beta, AT&T began displaying a 5G Evolution or 5GE icon on iPhones, misleading AT&T subscribers into thinking they're getting 5G transfer speeds when in fact, 5G on iPhone is not supported and AT&T has no 5G network as of yet.

AT&T uses the 5GE labeling to describe its 4G LTE networks that offer features like three-way carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO. These options are in no way limited to AT&T and are offered by other carriers, but no other carrier has chosen to use fake 5G branding.


As should come as no surprise, a recent test from OpenSignal has proven that AT&T's 5GE network is no faster than 4G networks from Verizon and AT&T that have the same speed upgrades.

AT&T users that have a 5GE capable smartphone, which includes modern iPhones and some Android devices, receive a "better experience" than other AT&T users with less capable smartphone models, but those same iPhones and Android devices get similar speeds on other carriers. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are all offering the same LTE advancements on iPhones with the newest LTE technology, but only AT&T is confusing customers with 5G branding.
What Opensignal's data shows is the extent to which LTE, or 4G, networks have improved since LTE's original launch. Technologies like carrier aggregation -- where two or more bands are used to simultaneously connect a user's smartphone -- 256 QAM or 4x4 MIMO, which together are normally called LTE Advanced Pro, offer a much faster experience than the initial version of 4G that was launched back in 2009-2011.
AT&T's fake branding has struck a nerve with other carriers, especially Sprint. Sprint has launched a full anti-AT&T campaign, filing a lawsuit against AT&T for its misleading branding and taking out ads in The New York Times.

Sprint rightly claims that AT&T is confusing customers and damaging the understanding of true 5G, which has the potential to impact Sprint's own 5G launch.

5G smartphones are only now just beginning to trickle out, and Apple isn't expected to launch one until 2020. No existing iPhone will be able to connect to a 5G network because it requires new hardware. 5G networks from the four major carriers in the United States will become available starting in 2019, but the technology is still new and there will be many bugs and coverage issues to work out.

Tag: AT&T

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Sprint Takes Out Full Page NYT Ad Calling Out AT&T for Misleading 5GE Branding

Sprint on Sunday took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to call out AT&T for its "5GE" network labeling, which actually offers 4G speeds rather than 5G speeds.

In the letter [PDF], Sprint calls AT&T's 5G Evolution "fake 5G" and clarifies that AT&T is not, in fact, offering faster speeds than other carriers who deliver the same 4G LTE advancements that AT&T has enabled such as three-way carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO.

While Sprint is working hard to deliver mobile 5G and the first 5G smartphone in the U.S., AT&T is hard at work trying to convince you that they already won the race to 5G with something they call "5G Evolution." That is simply untrue.

Don't be fooled. 5G Evolution isn't new or true 5G. It is fake 5G.

They would love for you to believe they are different ... better. The truth is AT&T is simply offering customers a nationwide 4G LTE network just like Sprint and all the other major wireless carriers. It's not 5G.
AT&T first started upgrading customer iPhones to read "5GE" in the iOS 12.2 beta, and the misleading branding will become much more widespread when iOS 12.2 sees a public release.

Devices in areas with AT&T's "upgraded" LTE will display "5GE" instead of LTE, but it's not real 5G. There is no iPhone that exists right now that is capable of connecting to a 5G network, nor does AT&T offer a true 5G network at this time.

AT&T has defended itself by claiming that 5G Evolution is the "first step on the road to 5G," but customers and other carriers are not impressed with its misleading branding that has the potential to confuse customers when actual 5G networks become available. AT&T has, however, claimed that customers "love" the 5GE branding because they "want and deserve to know" when "better speeds" are available.
"We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it. We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. 5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available. That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers.
Sprint has done more than just take out an ad against AT&T. In early February, Sprint filed a lawsuit in federal court against AT&T in an attempt to prevent AT&T from using the 5GE labeling on AT&T smartphones. Sprint says AT&T is damaging the consumer reputation and understanding of true 5G and potentially hurting Sprint's 5G launch this summer in nine metro areas.

True 5G smartphones won't be coming until later in 2019, and the 5G networks to support them also won't be available until later in the year. Rumors suggest Apple isn't planning to introduce 5G connectivity on its iPhones until 2020 at the earliest, so 5G is not a technology iPhone users will be able to take advantage of in 2019.

Tags: Sprint, AT&T, 5G, 5GE

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