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AT&T declares itself ‘world leader’ in 5G despite 0 consumer devices

June 06, 2019 / JEREMY HORWITZ

AT&T said that it launched a 12-city commercial 5G network at the end of last year, but after six months, the silence from actual AT&T 5G customers has been deafening: The company said it upped the tally to 19 cities and even hit 2Gbps peak speeds in April but, unlike rivals Verizon and Sprint, has zero smartphones for sale. That didn’t stop CEO John Donovan from declaring AT&T “the world leader” in 5G, though, and “certainly the leader in the U.S.,” during a Credit Suisse conference call this week. Donovan appears to be suggesting that AT&T’s success can be measured by a different metric than its competitors: It’s not trying to serve consumers “walking in the street trying to find a network,” but instead has “focused on 5G being an enterprise play,” where it simultaneously announces services for cities alongside specific deals.