5G Will Bring Back Carrier Locked Phones According To AT&T

Many people eagerly anticipate the debut of a new 5G network for mobile phones next year, but AT&T warns that in the short term, the move may not be great for consumers.

In fact, according to a PC Magazine report, AT&T believes the move will bring back something that mobile phone buyers seriously dislike — carrier locked phones. Although 5G will considerably improve things like speed and capacity providing consistent service, the smartphone technology isn’t as advanced as the new network will be, which means in the early days of the 5G network era, carriers will likely go back to selling carrier specific phones.

AT&T VP of radio networks and device design Gordon Mansfield said,

“It’s not because there isn’t a desire and we don’t want to have cross-compatibility. It’s just that nobody has figured out how to cram the 28GHz 5G that Verizon and T-Mobile are using, and AT&T’s 39GHz 5G, into one box yet. And while T-Mobile and Verizon are using similar 28GHz bands, T-Mobile is also putting 5G on the 600MHz band, which Verizon is not.”

AT&T, T Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint all plan to launch on the 5G network in 2019, and the early phones will likely have compatibility issues.

Mansfield did provide some positive news, though. He said, “As an industry, that will be very quickly overcome; I don’t think the single band introduction from the millimeter-wave point of view will last very long.”


The expected compatibility issue will be similar to what early generations of 4G phones experienced, and now those complications have been improved allowing for some unlocked smartphones, which can work on multiple carrier networks.

Interestingly, AT&T’s first 5G device won’t even be a smartphone. Later this year, the telecommunications giant intends to launch a 5G mobile hotspot, which has some exciting implications for the future of how Internet Service Providers might look. The promises of 5G make it sound as if, people could use 5G instead of the type of internet service they use now.

As for the future of AT&T, Mansfield seemed excited about the ideas coming up. He said, “When you take our entertainment assets and combine them with our wireless assets, we’re going to be able to do some pretty incredible things.” Despite the fact that the first 5G gadget from AT&T is a mobile hotspot, he also indicated that the company also has smartphones in the works.

The future is wide open for 5G, but consumers who do not want to be stuck with a phone that only works with one carrier might consider waiting until that particular issue is resolved.