AT&T launches mobile 5G for business customers in Las Vegas

AT&T on Thursday launched mobile 5G service for business customers in parts of Las Vegas.

The latest announcement brings the carrier’s tally of 5G markets to 20.

Like all of its other 5G launch cities, AT&T is using 39 GHz millimeter wave spectrum for 5G in Las Vegas, according to a company spokesperson.  

Currently, the 5G service is only available for business customers, who can access AT&T’s 5G network using the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G with the carrier’s new Business Unlimited Preferred plan. AT&T also offers the Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot.

AT&T is also providing select developers with a Galaxy S10 5G and free service through the end of the year so they can test and create 5G-enabled applications using the carrier’s next-generation network. The spokesperson said developers will identify and help build new experiences to make 5G more impactful for consumers.

It’s unclear when individual consumers will have access to AT&T’s 5G network, but according to the spokesperson, the operator will introduce new 5G experiences and devices to consumers “as the ecosystem evolves and the network becomes more widely available.”

AT&T expects to have a "solid combination" of mobile 5G by the first half of 2020, using mmWave spectrum to deliver higher speeds in numerous specific locations and sub-6 GHz spectrum to provide nationwide coverage. 

Prior to Las Vegas, AT&T launched mobile 5G service in very limited parts of 19 cities, including seven in April. Those cities were Austin, Nashville, Orlando, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.

RELATED: San José connects first responders to FirstNet city-wide

AT&T said with the Las Vegas launch it intends to deliver “new experiences that digital natives crave.” When asked for details, a spokesperson pointed to the city’s entertainment-rich community and cited enhanced applications like virtual reality, future driverless cars, and immersive 4K video.

“We are proud to introduce 5G+ to Las Vegas,” said Stephanie Tyler, AT&T Nevada state president, in a statement. “Being the first to Las Vegas, and the first to 20 cities across the U.S., is a testament to AT&T’s commitment to our future.”

Separately on Thursday, AT&T touted San José, California, as the first in the country to deploy the dedicated first responder network FirstNet at full scale across the city. AT&T said it has deployed Band 14 spectrum throughout San José  and claims FirstNet performs 25% faster than any commercial network in the country.

In a research note MoffettNathanson analysts said AT&T's move to compete and win the FirstNet contract looks "brilliant" in retrospect, from a 5G spectrum position.  

“They [AT&T] have the industry’s best mix of millimeter wave (for speed) AND mid-band/low-band (for coverage),” senior analyst Craig Moffett wrote Thursday. 

It’s also been a busy week for mobile 5G launch announcements from other major carriers. Earlier in the day, Verizon said its mobile 5G network went live in Denver, with plans to turn on mmWave mobile 5G service in Providence, Rhode Island, on July 1.

T-Mobile, meanwhile, announced Tuesday that customers in six markets will be able to access its 5G network on Friday when the operator begins offering the Galaxy S10 5G.

The six cities include Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York.  T-Mobile has touted its multi-band spectrum strategy for 5G, promising broad 5G coverage using lower frequency 600 MHz spectrum and mid-band 2.5 GHz from Sprint if the pair’s proposed merger is approved. In its launch markets, T-Mobile is using mmWave spectrum, with 39 GHz in Las Vegas and 28 GHz in the remaining cities, according to a spokesman.

This article was updated to include responses from AT&T.