AT&T has deployed a new technology called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which it says will help to grow 5G adoption.
The DSS tech allows AT&T's network to share the same channel for 4G and 5G users at the same time. And because it's traffic-aware, it can switch between 4G and 5G based on customer demand at any given time.
"DSS is an important steppingstone on our path to nationwide 5G," AT&T's Igal Elbaz said. "The software-based technology allows us to bypass the process of re-farming spectrum in the near term, which ultimately means a smoother transition and expedited 5G adoption."
With DSS, AT&T can give its customers with 5G phones a bit more coverage when it doesn't want to decommission its 4G or is unable to buy more spectrum . And as more people adopt 5G phones, the areas with DSS will focus more on 5G than 4G. The boost to 5G isn't likely to be huge with DSS, but it could help owners of 5G phones to see a bit more 5G coverage.
AT&T says that DSS is now live on "portions" of its network. It went on to tell PCMag that DSS is currently available in parts of its network in North Texas. We'll likely see DSS expand to more parts of AT&T's network as it continues its 5G rollout, though.
One other thing to note is that while AT&T is the first major US carrier to utilize DSS, it won't be the only one to offer it. Verizon has said that it intends to use DSS to "supplement mmWave deployments and accelerate the deployment of 5G in low and mid band spectrum". T-Mobile hasn't been quite as hot on DSS and it likely doesn't need to be given its broad low-band 5G coverage and the mid-band 5G it just got through its merger with Sprint, but T-Mo has said that it will also deploy DSS in the future.