A cell tower along the Joe Webb Bridge provides 4G LTE wireless access to devices within range.
A cell tower along the Joe Webb Bridge provides 4G LTE wireless access to devices within range. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

AT&T mobile customers in San Antonio will get the latest generation in wireless technology, the company announced.

San Antonio is among a dozen cities where the telecommunications giant is launching faster mobile 5G service later this year, AT&T said Monday. Other Texas cities include Dallas, Houston, and Waco.

All of the major cellular providers in San Antonio operate on 4G LTE networks. Andrew Feutsch, chief technology officer at AT&T, stated in a news release that 4G was responsible for introducing the world to the gig economy and gave smartphone users the ability to hail a ride via an app or, more recently, take a ride on an electric scooter. The spread of 5G will spur a similar surge in innovation, he said.

”We’re at the dawn of something new that will define the next decade and generation of connectivity,” Fuetsch said in the release. “Future smart factories and retailers, self-driving cars, untethered virtual and augmented realities, and other yet to be discovered experiences will grow up on tomorrow’s 5G networks.”

According to some early projections, 5G could boast speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G and will support new technologies such as driverless cars and internet-of-things devices, or everyday items such as streetlights that have been enhanced with the ability to connect to the internet.

On Monday, the company and its collaborators in Waco demonstrated 5G technology with a standard mobile device – and not in a laboratory – for the first time.

“Today’s call between a 5G base station in the field and a smartphone form factor 5G device brings us one step closer to commercial 5G networks and mobile devices,” said David Nash, vice president of business technologies at Qualcomm Technologies Inc., in the news release. “We will continue to work with industry leaders such as Ericsson and AT&T to help ensure consumers will be able to experience the benefits of commercial 5G networks and mobile devices.”

In addition to telecommunications companies Ericsson and Qualcomm, AT&T has partnered with Samsung and Nokia to develop smartphones with 5G technology.

The Federal Communications Commission has taken a number of steps this year to lay the groundwork for the development of 5G infrastructure in the U.S., including adopting rules in July to allow for frequencies above 24 gigahertz.

Seven additional cities will join the initial 12 cities to launch 5G early next year: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.