5G abstract

AT&T’s 5G Coverage: Maps, Cities, and Plans

AT&T is deploying two different types of 5G:

  • Millimeter wave 5G: This 5G service is extremely fast, but very bad for covering large areas. Millimeter wave 5G is almost only used in dense, urban areas and does not penetrate buildings well. AT&T has branded its millimeter wave service as 5G+.
  • Low-band 5G: This 5G service is decent for speeds, but it’s not nearly as fast as millimeter wave 5G. On the flip side, low-band 5G is great for covering large areas. AT&T’s low-band 5G covers way more of the country than AT&T’s millimeter wave 5G.

By my counting, AT&T has started offering millimeter wave 5G in parts of at least 37 cities. AT&T’s low-band 5G covers over 200 million people.1 I expect AT&T’s 5G coverage, particularly AT&T’s low-band coverage, will expand substantially over the next year.

Coverage maps

You can check AT&T’s 5G coverage on the carrier’s interactive coverage map. When you first open AT&T’s map, you’ll see a zoomed-out view of the United States. The default map only makes a simple distinction between areas with coverage and areas without coverage:

AT&T default coverage map

To see information about which areas have 5G coverage, you’ll need to enter your location or zoom in on the map. Here’s how the map looks when zoomed in on the San Fancisco area:2

AT&T 5G coverage San Francisco

Light blue indicates areas with 5G coverage. My guess is that the coverage map only indicates places with low-band 5G coverage.3 I’m not aware of any maps published by AT&T that show 5G+ coverage.

5G+ locations

As of December 2020, AT&T offers 5G+ service in parts of these cities:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chicago, IL
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Detroit, MI
  • Houston, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • King of Prussia, PA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Louisville, KY
  • Menlo Park, CA
  • Miami Gardens, FL
  • Miami, FL
  • Nashville, TN
  • New Orleans, LA
  • New York City, NY
  • Oakland, CA
  • Ocean City, MD
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Orlando, FL
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Redwood City, CA
  • San Antonio, TX
  • San Bruno, CA
  • San Diego, CA,
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Waco, TX
  • West Hollywood, CA

AT&T’s 5G bands

AT&T uses at least three different bands for 5G coverage.

  • n5 (850MHz)
  • n260 (39GHz)
  • n261 (28GHz)

As AT&T’s 5G service matures, I expect the company will use more frequencies to take advantage of mid-band spectrum.

AT&T’s 5G-compatible phones

As of December 2020, AT&T offers over 20 5G-capable phones.
Apple:

Samsung:

Google:

LG:

Motorola

AT&T’s 5G vs. the competition

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are all offering low-band 5G that covers over 200 million people. While coverage numbers are changing quickly, I think T-Mobile covers more people with low-band 5G than any other carrier.

When it comes to millimeter wave 5G, Verizon is the uncontested leader. While Verizon’s millimeter wave 5G only covers about 0.5% of the U.S. population, that a much larger slice of the population than AT&T covers with millimeter wave 5G.4 Verizon’s millimeter wave is available in about 55 cities compared with AT&T’s 36 cities.

5G hotspots

AT&T offers one standalone hotspot device with 5G capabilities, the Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro. It has a retail price of $510, but it’s also available for 30 monthly installments of $17.

AT&T’s 5G pricing

AT&T offers 5G access at no extra charge on all of its postpaid unlimited plans:

  • Unlimited Starter
  • Unlimited Extra
  • Unlimited Elite

5G access is also included on AT&T’s Unlimited Data Plus prepaid plan.


Last updated: December 14, 2020

Footnotes

  1. See AT&T’s press release from July 23, 2020.
  2. I edited the screenshot slightly for legibility.
  3. It’s possible the areas marked in light blue include both areas with low-band 5G and areas with millimeter wave 5G, but I think it’s more likely that AT&T just doesn’t track millimeter wave coverage in the company’s interactive map.
  4. I don’t think Verizon has publicly shared estimates of how many people it covers with millimeter wave 5G. 0.5% of the population seems like a reasonable guess based on the information I’ve seen (as of October 2020).