The first 5G networks should begin appearing later this year, but AT&T is already rushing to call its network "5G." The so-called 5G Evolution is faster than the current version of LTE, but it's not really 5G. Today, the carrier has rolled out its pseudo-5G in 117 new markets, bringing the total count to 141.
According to AT&T, 5G Evolution serves as a "runway" to real 5G. Deploying 5G Evolution involves infrastructure upgrades that increase network capacity, and these improvements will eventually help to roll out 5G service. AT&T's first 5G networks of Dallas, Waco, and Atlanta are all covered by 5G Evolution already. AT&T's first 5G deployments will operate on millimeter wave and will initially be limited to WiFi hotspots.
5G Evolution has a theoretical peak speed fo 400Mbps, but true 5G will be in the gigabit range. The carrier has also added support for LTE-Licensed Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) in parts of three new markets. This enhancement of LTE uses unlicensed spectrum to increase speeds as high as 1Gbps.
You will need a compatible device to take advantage of 5G Evolution or LTE-LAA, which includes the Galaxy S8, S9, S8+, S9+, Note8 and S8 Active from Samsung. The LG V30 and Moto Z2 Force also work on the necessary frequencies. You can check AT&T's website for a full list of 5G Evolution and LTE-LAA markets.