Verizon launches nationwide 5G, doubling down on next-gen network

Verizon is stepping up its 5G efforts. The company has announced the rollout of its “nationwide” 5G network, which finally does away with the idea that its 5G network relies entirely on mmWave “ultra wideband” frequencies, and embraces the much more reliable Sub-6 networks that other carriers have been using.

According to Verizon, the new rollout will cover over 200 million people in 1,800 cities across the country. But there are a few caveats to the launch. Namely, there’s no guarantee that you’ll experience faster speeds on 5G than on 4G. In fact, it’s likely you won’t.

When Verizon first started launching its 5G network, it relied exclusively on mmWave tech that delivered fast speeds in very small, concentrated areas. Those networks are unreliable at best, and unusable at worst. To launch its new nationwide 5G network, Verizon is using a technology called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, or DSS, which essentially allows cell towers to use existing LTE infrastructure to run LTE and 5G networks at the same time.

That’s good and bad news.

While the advantage of the tech is that Verizon can quickly expand its 5G network and technically give it a footprint as large as T-Mobile and AT&T’s 5G networks, the downside is that speeds are nowhere near as high as its mmWave network, nor are they as high as what dedicated Sub-6 5G infrastructure would offer. That’s not to mention the fact that the tech means that 4G devices connected to a network might see their speeds capped due to the way that DSS works.

It’s somewhat telling that Verizon didn’t really talk about the speeds customers should expect on the new nationwide 5G network when it announced the news of the rollout at Apple’s iPhone 12 event. Instead, the company talked mostly about its mmWave network, saying that customers could get up to 4Gbps download speeds. At the event, Verizon said its mmWave networks would be available in 60 cities by the end of the year — but they’ll still be difficult to use with any consistency.

Still, users on Verizon’s new nationwide 5G network should see somewhat of a speed boost, even if it is minimal. That said, it won’t be enough of a boost to warrant buying a 5G phone simply for 5G networks. Instead, buy a phone that has other features you want — and if it also connects to 5G networks, consider that an added bonus. A good example of 5G-as-an-added-bonus is the new iPhone 12 series. All four iPhone 12 models support 5G.

Editors' Recommendations