When two of the nation's largest carriers go live with their next-gen networks later this year, phones and tablets won't be available. It looks like Verizon and AT&T are preparing mobile hotspots for 5G instead.
Verizon confirmed its decision to Bloomberg. At MWC 2018 in Barcelona, Verizon's Ronan Dunne said phones and tablets should arrive beginning in the first half of 2019. In the meantime, the carrier plans on adding mobile hotspots in 2018.
Last month, AT&T hinted at the idea during its earnings call. Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chief executive officer, said adoption of 5G would likely be slow simply due to the absence of compatible hardware. With that said, AT&T can easily get mobile hotspots into its lineup for whenever its 5G network launches.
The other two major U.S. carriers, T-Mobile and Sprint, have yet to announce anything regarding 5G-ready mobile hotspots. Both, however, are also in the process of building their own 5G networks with a full launch set for next year.
It's up to hardware manufacturers to get compatible mobile devices onto the market. Companies like Qualcomm and Intel are already helping to make that a reality, and throughout 2019 we should see adoption increase much like 4G LTE did way back at the time of its launch.