AT&T and Verizon have admitted it’s unlikely we will see 5G-compatible phones in 2018 and, as a result, will both look to introduce the fifth generation of mobile technology via portable hotspots at some point this year.
“I would expect that there are a range of handsets available in 2019 and some of those will be in the first half of 2019,” Ronan Dunne, Verizon’s wireless chief, told Bloomberg in an interview at Mobile World Congress. “If there’s anything available in 2018, it’s more likely to be a hotspot.”
During an earnings call last month, AT&T – which will roll out mobile 5G to 12 US cities this year – offered up a similar view on the likelihood of 5G technology arriving this year, pointing out it would introduce hotspots called ‘pucks’ sometime this year.
“The thing that’s going to cause 5G to go slow, more than anything else, it’s just availability of handsets,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T CEO, during the call. “That’s why we’re going to be deploying pucks in the first part of our deployment.”
It’s likely the first batch of 5G-capable devices will arrive out of China through manufacturers like Huawei. And we may even see handsets available by the end of the year. Despite this, due to US government pressure, both AT&T and Verizon chose to drop their plans to carry Huawei phones.