Mobile

AT&T paves the way for 5G in Indianapolis, Austin

The 5G hype continues as the company commits to bringing higher speeds in the coming months.

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AT&T is keen on 5G technology.

Sarah Tew/CNET

AT&T is laying the groundwork for 5G wireless technology in Austin, Texas, and Indianapolis.

The telecom giant on Wednesday said it would launch its first "5G Evolution" markets in those two cities, likely looking to upgrade the infrastructure to prepare for the next-generation of wireless technology. The company said both cities will see theoretical peak speeds of 400 megabits per second, or 40 times faster than your normal cellular connection.

That still pales in comparison to 5G, which is supposed to easily top 1 gigabit per second.

The news was part of AT&T's broader initiative called Network 3.0, or Indigo, designed to replace the hardware elements of the network with software, making it more nimble and ready to tackle the next generation of technology. That includes self-driving cars, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and, yes, 5G. Even as the carriers duke it out over today's customers with their core wireless service, they have an eye on connecting tomorrow's tech like cars or farming equipment.

Following up on a business customer trial of 5G in Austin, and a trial with DirecTV in the same city, AT&T said it was building two 5G "testbeds" there in the spring. The testbeds are designed to support its work in 5G, as well as its plans to offer fixed mobile broadband service.

Given the high speeds available with 5G, AT&T doesn't think people will care about data rates and megabits once the technology is rolled out.

"They'll ask, 'Can I livestream a virtual reality broadcast of my trip to the beach? or 'Can my bank securely and quickly authenticate a purchase I want to make when I'm traveling?'" AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan said in a statement.

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