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Verizon 5G rollout: Everything you need to know

Verizon is in a cutthroat competition with the rest of the major U.S. carriers to install next-gen 5G networking: The telecom giant was first to launch its cellular 5G network in select cities, meaning that with the right device and location, you can finally enjoy 5G speeds. According to Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, 5G “has the potential to be one of the most transformative technologies that we’ve seen in a long time” — and he’s not wrong.

But wait, what is 5G, anyway? The fifth generation of wireless networks, or 5G, has been nearly a decade in the making, and it’s finally becoming a reality. Promising dramatically faster speeds, instantaneous communication, and the ability to network everything, 5G has incredible potential. A limited rollout of the service began in select cities in 2018, and 5G started appearing in cities around the U.S. in 2019, with much more comprehensive launches expected throughout 2020.

Are you a Verizon customer? Here’s everything you need to know about Verizon’s 5G rollout.

Verizon 5G availability: Major U.S. cities

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Mobile 5G

It’s official: Verizon won the race. The company flipped the switch in April 2019, turning on 5G in Chicago and Minneapolis. If you live in a specific area in those cities and happen to have a 5G-compatible smartphone, you can now enjoy 5G.

Since then, Verizon has switched on its 5G service in a range of locations. Most recently, the company brought 5G service to Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, as well as Hampton Roads, Virginia. That brings the total number of cities with Verizon 5G to 31 — beating the company’s goal of 30 in 2019.

In the week leading up to the most recent cities, it announced availability in Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Miami, Florida; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Spokane, Washington. This brings total availability to 28 cities. In the days before the announcement, Verizon announced availability in Los Angeles; Des Moines, Iowa; Hoboken, New Jersey; and Memphis, Tennessee.

When it comes to other locations that customers can use, Verizon also recently announced that it was bringing 5G service to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Houston, and Boston — so if you live in those areas, you may be able to enjoy 5G speeds in some areas. Previously, Verizon also announced bringing its 5G service to both Dallas and Omaha, Nebraska.

Verizon’s 5G service is officially live in parts of New York City, including parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and some landmarks throughout the city. Alongside availability in New York City, the company has also launched 5G service in Panama City, Florida, and Boise, Idaho.

The company is also bringing 5G to a number of NFL stadiums. Verizon has announced that for the 2019-2020 NFL season, 5G connectivity will be available in 13 stadiums — with more to come soon. According to Verizon, the stadiums include Bank of America Stadium, Empower Field at Mile High, CenturyLink Field, Ford Field, Gillette Stadium, Hard Rock Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, MetLife Stadium, M&T Bank Stadium, NRG Stadium, Soldier Field, and U.S. Bank Stadium.

If you’re in Denver, Colorado — good news: Verizon’s 5G network is now live in select areas as well. Providence, Rhode Island wasn’t far behind either, as it got Verizon’s 5G network on July 1, 2019. St. Paul, Minnesota, was granted 5G access on July 18, and Verizon even managed to squeeze four more cities into July by adding 5G service for Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Washington D.C., on July 31. Next up was Phoenix, which got 5G access starting on August 23.

Here’s a rundown of all the cities with Verizon’s 5G.

U.S. cities with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband
Atlanta, Georgia Boston, Massachusetts
Boise, Idaho Charlotte, North Carolina
Chicago, Illinois Cleveland, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio Dallas, Texas
Denver, Colorado Des Moines, Iowa
Detroit, Michigan Grand Rapids, Michigan
Greensboro, North Carolina Hampton Falls, Virginia
Hoboken, New Jersey Houston, Texas
Indianapolis, Indiana Los Angeles, California
Memphis, Tennessee Miami, Florida
Minneapolis, Minnesota New York, New York
Omaha, Nebraska Panama City, Florida
Phoenix, Arizona Providence, Rhode Island
Salt Lake City, Utah St. Paul, Minnesota
Sioux Falls, South Dakota Spokane, Washington
Washington, D.C.
U.S. cities that will get Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband
Cincinnati, Ohio Little Rock, Arkansas
Kansas City, Missouri
San Diego, California

Verizon 5G pricing

It’s relatively inexpensive to get access to Verizon’s 5G, if you have a 5G-enabled phone and live in an area with a 5G network. That’s especially true if you have one of Verizon’s unlimited plans.

Through the Verizon Start Unlimited plan, you can get 5G access for an extra $10 per month. However, if you have any of Verizon’s other unlimited plans, including Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, or Get More Unlimited, you’ll get 5G access included by default.

Verizon 5G speeds

So just how fast will Verizon’s 5G network get? Well, according to Verizon, 5G networks may one day boast speeds of up to a huge 10Gbps. For now, we tested Verizon 5G in person with a Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, and achieved speeds of up to a still very impressive 1.35Gbps.

Of course, there are a number of things that affect the speed of 5G networks. Notably, the more people that are connected to a network, the lower speeds will be. Not only that, but your distance to a 5G node may impact speeds too. That said, 5G technology will likely get better over time, and the result will likely be faster speeds.

Indoor 5G

One of the biggest problems with 5G, or at least mmWave, is that it’s not very good at going through obstacles like walls — making it difficult to get good 5G reception when you’re indoors. Verizon, however, is trying to change that. The company has announced a new partnership with Boingo Wireless to help customers get better 5G reception when they’re inside a building.

There aren’t too many details about what the new indoor 5G infrastructure will look like — just that the two companies are working “to bring 5G Ultra Wideband service indoors and to public spaces – places like airports, stadiums and arenas, office buildings, hotels, etc.” How? With a “hyper-dense network designed for large and small indoor spaces.”

For now, if you do have access to 5G in your city, you’ll probably be more or less limited to using it outside.

Verizon Home 5G

Verizon isn’t just offering mobile 5G access — the carrier also has a home 5G service, which converts 5G signal to Wi-Fi, allowing you to use your laptop, smart home devices, and so on, on Verizon’s 5G network.

The service is available only in select areas, but it’s not all that expensive. You can get a Verizon Home 5G plan for $50 per month, as long as you already have a Verizon Wireless plan that’s at least $30 per month. If you don’t have a Verizon Wireless plan, you’ll pay $70 per month for the Home 5G service.

At this point, Verizon’s 5G service isn’t very widely available, but you can see if you’re in an area with Verizon Home 5G at Verizon’s website.

5G network

Verizon wants its 5G to offer impeccable speeds with low latency. To meet those demands, Verizon is initially deploying its 5G network on millimeter wave spectrum (mmWave). And while mmWave will undoubtedly offer the fastest 5G experience, it has its flaws.

One of the notable challenges with the implementation of new “small cell” towers is the fact that they require local government approval — meaning that carriers need approval in every city they want to install these new towers. To attempt to speed that up, Verizon is encouraging customers to lobby their elected officials. The new “Let’s 5G” website is aimed at both informing people about 5G and what it could offer, and informing users on how they can speed up the process of 5G deployment.

Verizon’s mmWave is relying on the 28 GHz spectrum. One of the challenges with using the high-band spectrum is that it does not cover a large area, and penetration is a serious challenge. Digital Trends flew to Chicago twice to test the Moto Z3 with the 5G Moto Mod and the Galaxy S10 5G on Verizon’s new network, and while we saw 1Gbps download speeds, the range and building penetration were seriously poor.

Over the next several years, Verizon will build out its 5G network around the country using small cells, and will eventually deploy service on a mid- and low-band spectrum. For the next several years Verizon’s 5G service will piggyback off its massive 4G network. Expect to see 5G service in larger cities and busy places like airports and stadiums, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see the service in the suburbs and rural areas for years to come.

5G hardware

When it comes to 5G hardware, there’s not a lot to report. Right now, Verizon has confirmed only a handful of mobile devices with 5G modems as well as a hotspot.

  • Moto Z3 with 5G Moto Mod
  • Moto Z4 with 5G Moto Mod
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
  • LG V50 ThinQ 5G
  • Inseego MiFi 5G M1000 hotspot

The Inseego MiFi hot spot allows you to experience the benefits of 5G, without being tied to the limitations of it on a phone.

We’ll be updating this list as more 5G devices launch on Verizon.

Updated on January 28, 2020: Updated article with Home 5G, pricing, and Verizon 5G speeds.

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