Wolter echoed this sentiment and said that latency rates can improve as 5G is deployed commercially. However, those low-latency figures are dependent upon a 5G link already being established, he said.

“That initial acquisition takes longer than the kind of low-latency numbers that you’re hearing,” Wolter said, noting that AT&T is still researching how long initial acquisition of a 5G link will take, particularly in a mobile environment.

Of course, the primary goal of all broadband technologies is to have data packets reach a high-speed fiber connection as quickly as possible. With its FirstNet, 5G and wireline broadband initiatives, AT&T is expanding its fiber network rapidly, Stephens said.

“We now reach more than 8 million locations with fiber and plan to hit 10 million by the end of this year,” Stephens said. “This is in addition to the 8 million business locations that we pass today within 1,000 feet with fiber. These 16 million locations and the more than 1 million route miles of fiber in our overall network are the backbone of our network and our move to 5G.”

Although AT&T expects it will have 5G networks commercially available by the end of the year, Stephens acknowledged that handsets, tablets and other traditional devices will not be available in the market until next year. Until then, users will have to utilize Mi-Fi-like “puck” devices to experience 5G mobile services, he said.

However, many commercial devices are available that can access the “5G Evolution” networks that AT&T has deployed in 141 markets to date and expects to be available in more than 500 markets by the end of the year, according to the company.

In a recent blog, AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch stated that 5G Evolution deployments leverage features like LTE-LAA, 256 QAM, 4x4 MIMO and three-way carrier aggregation to provide higher speeds to users today and prepare sites for 5G in the future. In Chicago, a technology magazine reported speeds of 537 MB/s, according to Fuetsch.