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Google Pixel 6 can now tap into Verizon’s faster C-Band 5G

Verizon has finally flicked the switch that allows the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro to latch on to its C-Band 5G network. In January this year, Verizon and AT&T began the deployment of their respective 5G networks on the C-Band spectrum. However, the Pixel 6 series phones haven’t yet been able to take advantage of the faster C-Band 5G airwaves.

That’s because both the phones come equipped with the necessary networking hardware to support the C-Band spectrum, but they hadn’t received an official certification yet. Verizon’s George Koroneos has now shared on Twitter that both the phones have passed the certification hurdle. And starting today, the carrier has started rolling out a firmware update for the Pixel 6 duo that enables C-Band 5G support on Google’s flagships.

Faster and more feature-rich

The software update (version SP2A.220305.013.A3) arrives with the delayed March security patch for the Pixel 6 series phones in tow. The update also brings some new Pixel features to the Pixel 6 pair such as Night Sight in the Snap camera, Live Relay for captioning calls in real time, and a battery information widget, among others. For more details, check out the complete changelog for Pixel 6’s March feature drop. Keep in mind that the C-Band 5G network will only be available to customers on an Unlimited plan with 5G Ultra Wideband in the list of perks.

The wait is over! @Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have officially been certified to work on @Verizon's 5G C-Band network, giving you access to the full power of 5G Ultra Wideband. Phones will be updated via a software update that will begin rolling out later today. #TeamPixel

— George Koroneos 🗿🍹 (@GLKCreative) March 21, 2022

For Pixel 6 users currently on a Verizon plan without 5G Ultra Wideband support, they can upgrade to experience faster C-Band 5G speeds using the My Verizon or My Biz apps, or by logging in to their customer profile on the official Verizon website. It is also worth noting here Verizon’s C-Band 5G is not available in all regions, but the company is quickly trying to fill the gaps.

Earlier today, Verizon also announced that it is has inked deals with satellite companies to get its hands on more C-band spectrum this year. As of January 2021, Verizon’s Ultra Wideband 5G service that’s  built on top of the C-Band spectrum covered 100 million users, but the carrier hopes to reach more than 175 million users by the end of 2022.

What is C-Band and why does it matter?

A smartphone display shoes that Verizon C Band 5G support is live for the Google Pixel 6.

The existing cellular 5G infrastructure is divided into two tiers — the faster mmWave 5G flavor that can touch 1Gbps (and theoretically, 5Gbps) and the slower Sub-6 GHz. But mmWave suffers from limited coverage and poor network penetration, while Sub-6 GHz network with its superior network penetration is only a tad speedier than 4G LTE. The C-Band 5G sits somewhere in between, striking a fine balance between network reach and raw speeds.

Can Pixel 6 users discern when their phone is hooked to Verizon’s C-Band 5G airwaves? Going by the speed test results, yes. But the indicator situation is a little confusing, and that’s because Verizon uses the same “5G UW” marker for both mmWave and C-Band 5G. Based on testing done by PCMag, Verizon’s C-Band delivers north of 500Mbps on average, but Redditors have shared speeds exceeding the 800Mbps mark on the carrier’s 5G Ultra Wideband network.

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Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
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