AT&T will be providing 5G networks to select city's starting Friday.
AT&T's Netgear Nighthawk mobile hotspots enable its recently released 5G network. Credit: Courtesy / AT&T

5G, the latest iteration of mobile wireless technology, has landed in San Antonio.

AT&T announced Tuesday it has turned on its new 5G mobile network in 12 cities, including San Antonio. On Friday, it will release a select number of wireless hotspots in area stores.

“This is the first taste of the mobile 5G era,” said Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer, in a press release. “Being first, you can expect us to evolve very quickly. It’s early in the 5G journey, and we’re ready to learn fast and continually iterate in the months ahead.”

The first businesses and consumers will receive the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspots for free for the first three months. In the spring, customers will be able to pay $499 for the device and $70 a month for 15 gigabytes of data.

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.

In addition to traditional cell towers, the underlying infrastructure for 5G technology entails attaching small cells to city infrastructure, such as streetlights. Small-cell infrastructure helps lengthen the reach of 5G networks, speeds up service, and increases reliability. Because 5G will be used for data-intensive tasks, such as autonomous transportation, the network will need to process communication instantaneously with minimal delay.

Verizon launched its 5G internet in October. That company’s 5G technology so far includes only fixed internet installations in individual households. A couple in Houston became the first to receive Verizon’s 5G residential broadband service that month.

AT&T is set to become the first company in the U.S. to bring mobile 5G devices to market with its Nighthawk hotspots, which can be used where the company’s network is online: Dallas; Waco; Atlanta; Indianapolis; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and Louisville, Kentucky, in addition to San Antonio.

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