- AT&T is upgrading its LTE networks as a foundation for a nationwide mobile 5G launch with the expansion of its "5G Evolution" technology in more than 400 U.S. markets, according to an announcement. The company also plans to bring 5G service to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in the next few months, according to a separate announcement.
- Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile criticized AT&T, claiming that the company is misleading customers by selling some smartphones that use 5G Evolution and show a "5GE" logo instead of "LTE" on the screen, even though the devices can't connect to a 5G network. AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan dismissed the criticism in an appearance at CES, The Verge reported.
- Meanwhile, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg delivered a keynote address that highlighted how companies like Disney and The New York Times are using high-speed 5G technologies, according to an announcement.
5G will bring enhanced capabilities to the mobile world and represents a new battlefield for mobile providers as the technology rolls out over the next year. The speed and strength with which Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile pushed back on AT&T's claims about its 5G capabilities demonstrates the priority that 5G holds in their plans for 2019 and beyond.
The advertising and marketing applications for 5G will be numerous, especially with the improvement in video download speeds that reduce the possibility that mobile users will get frustrated with slow service. Prolonged download times are a major reason that some mobile users install ad blocking software on their phones or simply give up on trying to browse mobile websites.
5G could lead to growth in 4K video, autonomous cars, drones, VR/AR and mobile gaming that will drive the surge in data traffic. AT&T said data traffic on its mobile network has grown more than 470,000% since 2007 with video making up half of mobile data. Video may expand its share of data traffic to more than 75% by 2022, according to the company's estimates.
AT&T said it expanded its agreement with Magic Leap, the startup maker of AR headsets, to focus on business applications this year. Retail, healthcare and manufacturing are key areas of focus. Retail applications include letting customers virtually "try on" clothes or see furniture arranged in a home before making a purchase, applications that a range of marketers experimented with in 2018.
While AT&T is being bullish about its 5G capabilities, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg didn't provide a timeline for its 5G rollout at CES, and instead focused on how the technology will unleash connective technologies and blend physical and digital realms with AR/VR, autonomous cars, advanced robotics, 3D printing and wearable tech, among other applications.
As part of his keynote, Vestberg also introduced a variety of partners that foreshadow how 5G will be used by brands and marketers. New York Times CEO Mark Thompson announced the 5G Journalism Project that puts 5G tech in the hands of journalists; Walt Disney Studios' CTO Jamie Voris discussed how Verizon joined Disney's StudioLAB innovation program to apply 5G in content creation; Dr. Christopher Morley discussed his startup company MediVis, which uses AR on a 5G network to let surgeons review detailed anatomical information on patients having surgery; and Skyward CEO Mariah Scott talked about the effects of 5G drone deployment on businesses.