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AT&T expands low-band 5G rollout to 90 new markets, now covers 120 million people

CNET| April 22, 2020

AT&T’s low-band 5G coverage area is growing, with the company continuing to expand its new networks even as the coronavirus pandemic has kept much of the country at home. On Wednesday the carrier announced that it has expanded to 90 new markets across 30 states, and now offers 5G service in areas such as Chicago, Sacramento, New Orleans and Tampa. 

With the expansion, AT&T says its 5G network now covers 120 million people in 190 markets around the country. The carrier has previously said it hopes to have a nationwide low-band 5G network in the first half of the year, with an AT&T spokeswoman telling CNET that the company is still on track to reach that goal. 

A full list of the new markets can be found on AT&T’s site and works with a host of phones including the Samsung Galaxy S20 line, Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G and LG V60 ThinQ 5G, assuming you also have one of the carrier’s Unlimited Extra or Elite plans. 

While not significantly faster than its current 4G LTE network (or what AT&T calls “5GE”), AT&T’s low-band 5G sets the stage for future improvements in speed as the new network develops. 

The carrier also has a faster millimeter-wave 5G network live in 35 cities that it calls “5G Plus.” Although it is faster than low-band 5G, as with Verizon’s 5G network that uses similar technology, the coverage with millimeter-wave is severely limited and cannot penetrate into buildings. Those who want to be able to use both networks also need to make sure they have the right device, which at the moment is either the Galaxy S20 Plus 5G or Ultra 5G. 

Read moreHere’s how to tell real 5G from the marketing fluff

In expanding to 120 million people AT&T’s low-band network is slowly catching up to T-Mobile, which turned on a nationwide 5G low-band network late last year that covered 200 million people. Like AT&T, T-Mobile has been expanding its 5G network since its initial launch, most recently adding the Detroit, St. Louis and Columbus areas on Tuesday as well as beginning to rollout faster midband 5G with its newly acquired Sprint spectrum. 

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