FEBRUARY 20, 2018

Residents of Atlanta, Dallas and Waco, Texas, get ready to strap in for 5G.

AT&T on Tuesday said that it would connect the three cities to its mobile 5G network by the end of the year. The three cities are part of a dozen markets that are supposed to get 5G from AT&T this year. 

The announcement marks a small step toward the reality of 5G -- the next generation of wireless technology that promises heightened speeds, superior responsiveness and better coverage. 5G is seen as the foundational technology for other areas like self-driving cars and streaming virtual reality, and it starts with these early deployments. 

AT&T has said that the first 5G devices this year will be "pucks," or mobile hot spots. The first 5G-capable phones are slated to come early next year. The company added that it expects to announce additional cities to get 5G in the coming months. 

AT&T is just the latest carrier to make big promises when it comes to 5G. T-Mobile has vowed to create a nationwide mobile 5G network by 2020, and Sprint says it plans to have its nationwide 5G network up by early 2019. Verizon, meanwhile, is testing 5G as a broadband replacement service this year

This will make it possible, for instance, to download a 3D movie in 30 seconds, compared to six minutes on 4G. The bad news is that there are currently no 5G capable smartphones on the market. AT&T says it expects compatible devices from phone makers to be out later this year, and it plans to introduce its own compatible phones early next year. 

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