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AT&T Expands 5G Home Internet: Affordable Broadband Solutions Arrive

AT&T is taking a significant step forward in utilizing 5G technology for home internet services. In an announcement on Tuesday, the telecommunications giant revealed its plans to extend its fixed wireless offerings to 16 new markets, granting access to home broadband via 5G for a monthly fee of $55.

AT&T Expands 5G Home Internet

Dubbed "Internet Air," this expansion encompasses various regions including parts of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Phoenix (Prescott), Chicago, Detroit, Flint-Saginaw-Bay City in Michigan, Hartford-New Haven in Connecticut, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Portland in Oregon, Salt Lake City, Seattle-Tacoma, and Tampa-St. Petersburg (Sarasota) in Florida. Erin Scarborough, President of AT&T's broadband and connectivity initiatives, elaborated in a blog post that the selection of these 5G home broadband locations was based on areas within the network with "sufficient wireless coverage and capacity to not only provide an excellent in-home experience, but also maintain a top-tier wireless service for our existing mobile users." Subscribers who also have AT&T wireless service and choose automatic payments will have the opportunity to lower their bill to $35 per month. Much like offerings from competitors like T-Mobile or Verizon, AT&T's 5G home internet comes without overage fees, equipment charges, or annual contracts. Notably, AT&T assures that the price will not increase "at 12 months." AT&T's previous trials of the Internet Air product took place in segments of Los Angeles and Philadelphia, positioning it as an upgrade to its older DSL home broadband service, particularly in locations where fiber-based internet was unavailable. According to CNET, AT&T expects download speeds over 5G to range from 40Mbps to 140Mbps, while upload speeds will fall between 5Mbps and 25Mbps. While not as rapid as fiber or cable, this presents a substantial improvement from the "typically 6Mbps or lower" speeds experienced by DSL users. Currently, AT&T boasts around 6 million nonfiber broadband customers. For reference, streaming service Netflix recommends speeds of at least 15Mbps for 4K streaming, while video conferencing platform Zoom requires download speeds of 3.8Mbps and upload speeds of 3Mbps for HD group video calls. Details regarding upload speeds and latency offered by AT&T's Internet Air product have not been immediately disclosed. Setting up AT&T's Internet Air appears to follow a similar process to that of its competitors, involving the delivery of a modem/Wi-Fi router combo device to users, with setup, installation, and management guided by an accompanying app. Should users decide to cancel the service, returning the device to AT&T suffices. For larger households, Wi-Fi extenders can be obtained at an additional $10 per month, per extender (up to a maximum of five extenders). Users can also link their existing Wi-Fi routers to the AT&T device via its Ethernet port if they prefer using their own setups. AT&T's app is designed to aid users in determining optimal extender placement and will issue notifications advising users on potential router or extender adjustments for network optimization. While 5G's performance hasn't fully lived up to the initial hype in certain areas, it has introduced valuable competition for consumers in the realm of home broadband. Wireless carriers have aimed to challenge major cable providers such as Comcast, Charter, and Optimum, and even ventured into the territory of wired offerings from Verizon and AT&T. AT&T's home internet expansion news follows its recent announcement that it is accelerating the speed of its 5G network ahead of schedule. Erin Scarborough clarified to CNET that the earlier availability of C-band spectrum did not influence the decision to expand into these markets and that this strategic move had been in the works for "several months." "We have meticulously planned this endeavor, ensuring we can deliver a superior customer experience," Scarborough noted confidently.

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