So you want to get some of that super fast, super low latency 5G goodness? AT&T has just announced pricing for their upcoming services to several US cities, and it doesn’t look too great.

The crux of the deal starts with a $500 one-off fee for a Netgear Wireless Hotspot, which is the one we saw at the Qualcomm Tech Summit a couple of weeks ago. This device converts a 5G signal into an 802.11ac/802.11ax wireless hotspot, or can be tethered through a USB 3.1 5 Gbps connection. Inside is a battery, as well as a Snapdragon 855 SoC and X50 modem that will convert the 5G signal. In speaking with the mobile hotspot providers, they expect ‘a full day battery’ with their devices, but Netgear declined to say how big the battery was or hard numbers.

The Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot

On top of the $500 fee is the data plan. To start, AT&T will offer a $70/month data plan for 15 GB (with no annual committment). So despite the promise of 5G being fast, that data cap is going to go quick for anyone that wants to download a few movies. One of the use cases given to us for 5G at the Tech Summit was the ability to pull down a few seasons of a favorite show on Netflix while boarding a plane. If that’s the case, it might only be valid once or twice in a month.

To start, AT&T will only offer the 5G network to select businesses and customers for the first 3 months, before offering it to all customers in the Spring. Initially the service will be available in the following cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Jacksonville, Fla
  • Louisville, KY
  • Oklahoma City
  • New Orleans
  • Raleigh, NC
  • San Antonio
  • Waco, TX

The following cities will be enabled through the first half of 2019:

  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Nashville
  • Orlando
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose, CA

The initial offering will make 5G available as a hotspot service only, meaning that users will have to purchase a compatible 5G mobile hotspot for it to work (and only Netgear makes ones that will work with AT&T so far).

No word was given as to the speed of AT&T’s 5G network, however it will be part of its 39 GHz mmWave spectrum. To differentiate between 5G on mmWave and 5G on sub-6 GHz bands, AT&T is using the ‘5G+’ branding for its mmWave technology.  This is going to be a fun exercise in branding.

Source: AT&T

At AT&T's 5G Demos at the Qualcomm Tech Summit, Dec 2018


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  • nismotigerwvu - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Wait, at the speeds they are hyping, you might actually be able to blow through that 15 gig monthly allotment in an hour. That's HILARIOUS!
  • madspartus - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Uh, the typical user experienced speeds are supposed to be on the order of 1gbps. 15GB / 1gbps = 120 seconds, or 2 minutes, not 1 hour. Peak speeds are I think 20 gbps, but that never happens so no matter.
  • nismotigerwvu - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Oh sure, under the right circumstances you might be able to sustain that (a large patch or a new game install from Steam while standing right next to the tower) but I'm saying a typical user could even do this under typical conditions even in this short of a time. You'd only have to average 33 mbps for an hour to hit 15 gigs. A 4k Youtube or Netflix stream would do that (and possibly then some depending on frame rate). This isn't even an edge case.
  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    You can sustain 33mbps on LTE already in more modern LTE networks. For 5G, one would expect being able to sustain at least 200mbps...
  • niva - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Wow this sounds terrible. I for one was looking forward to having 5G as an option but with these prices/caps it's going to be a while before it's a realistic option to get off Comcast.
  • nico_mach - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    Too many drawbacks. 5g is practically line of sight - meaning clear weather and outdoors, the walls of your house can be enough to block it. Now add in the incredibly low caps (15gb!? for a new expensive product!?) and lack of regulation and competition, and you're going to be stuck with Comcast for a long, long time. Technology isn't going to fix this.

    I think this is another time to just say, hey, phones are already really good and Netflix is screwed no matter what.
  • fred666 - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    under 6 GHz 5G is not going to be that much faster than LTE. They say only 15-50% faster
  • ajp_anton - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    I can already sustain 100Mbit LTE on my phone (average speed over a 1TB database sync, took exactly 24h). The network supposedly goes up to 600Mbit, but my plan is capped at "100".
  • Sttm - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    And to think they were touting the increased capacity of 5g and then turn around and sell 15g a month for $70 like its 4g...

    They can give you a TB on 5G without stressing the network, this is just price gouging due to a total lack of competition!
  • JKflipflop98 - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Wow. $500 for a janky "hotspot" modem? $70 a month for 15 gigs of data you can blow through in less than 5 minutes?

    This is what happens when morons that think "a business exists to make money" actually get to be in charge of a business.

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