AT&T launches 5G at 39 GHz in parts of Milwaukee

Milwaukee
With downtown Milwaukee, AT&T’s 5G millimeter wave markets now include parts of 36 cities across the country. (Getty Images)

AT&T introduced its “5G+” service in parts of downtown Milwaukee – a moniker the operator uses to signify the 5G service is delivered using millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum.

AT&T was offering its 5G+ service only to business customers until this past March, when it expanded its 5G+ service to consumers with the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S20 series. In July, AT&T claimed 5G coverage nationwide using sub-6 GHz spectrum.

According to AT&T, the higher band spectrum means it’s able to deliver “unprecedented performance,” such as download speeds of up to 1 Gbps. The mmWave band AT&T is using is 39 GHz, a spokesperson confirmed.

“Our customers in Milwaukee are going to be blown away by their experience with AT&T 5G+ on 5G+-enabled devices,” said Tom Monahan, VPGM AT&T Wisconsin, in a statement. “The speeds we are seeing on our 5G+ network are impressive and will open up a wide range of opportunities and experiences for customers and businesses in Downtown Milwaukee.”

As with Verizon’s mmWave 5G, which often uses the 28 GHz band, AT&T’s 5G+ service has extremely limited coverage in the markets where it’s launched. AT&T’s says it’s well suited for providing coverage in densely populated and high-traffic areas like campuses, shopping areas, hospitals and other business locations.

In downtown Milwaukee, new locations for AT&T’s 5G mmWave include Fiserv Forum, Miller Park and the Deer District. That brings AT&T’s mmWave 5G markets to parts of 36 cities across the country.

AT&T got a head start, so to speak, on its 39 GHz holdings when it acquired FiberTower in 2017. But it also picked up a sizable amount in the last big millimeter wave auction that concluded in March. AT&T was one of the top bidders in that auction, which combined the 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands. Bidding under FiberTower Spectrum Holdings, AT&T won 3,267 licenses in 411 partial economic areas (PEAs), bidding about $2.38 billion. Verizon and T-Mobile also were big spenders in that auction.

RELATED: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile top spenders at mmWave 5G spectrum auction

With the Covid-19 pandemic, most large public gatherings are off limits, but AT&T said it’s ready for when the tide turns.

“While we know large gatherings are limited at the moment, we’re excited for our customers to experience 5G+ speeds when events begin again in Downtown Milwaukee,” said Scott VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin, in a statement. “We are proud of our continued investment in Downtown Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin.”