AT&T will launch 5G in Charlotte, Raleigh by end of 2018

The two North Carolina cities are among a dozen places to have the latest wireless network by year’s end

An AT&T logo and communication equipment is shown on a building in downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

RALEIGH — AT&T on Friday named Oklahoma City, Charlotte and Raleigh as three more cities where it plans launch its next-generation wireless network, or 5G, by the end of the year.

The competition to launch a 5G network is heating up, as AT&T’s smaller rivals T-Mobile and Sprint plan to merge to better invest in its network, and the largest U.S. wireless carrier Verizon recently named its chief technology officer to lead the company, signaling it will focus more on building 5G.

AT&T Chief Technology Officer Andre Fuetsch said in an interview the mobile 5G network is expected to launch toward the end of the year but declined to specify a date.

AT&T previously said Atlanta, Dallas and Waco, Texas, would also have mobile 5G by the end of the year, as well as six more cities that have yet to be named.

The cities were chosen based on where the company already held spectrum, or airwaves that carry data, and were open to AT&T installing the necessary infrastructure, Fuetsch said.

“We worked with the cities that embraced the technology,” he said.

Because 5G-enabled smartphones are not expected to be available until 2019, AT&T plans to introduce a puck-shaped device to allow users to access the 5G network with their current phones.