The first two Verizon mobile 5G markets will be Chicago and Minneapolis and will launch April 11, the company said today. To use the service, customers will initially have to purchase a 5G moto mod device from Motorola, exclusive to Verizon, which will be used in combination with a moto z3 smartphone launched last year. Additional 5G capable smartphones will become available later.
Verizon calls the mobile 5G service “5G Ultra Wideband” to designate the technology’s deployment in the millimeter wave band. Verizon has broad spectrum holdings in that band, which should enable it to maximize mobile data speeds. The downside is that the offering is expected to require dense cell site infrastructure as range is reduced for service operating in that band – although Verizon has said that those concerns are not as severe as some initially expected.
The equipment underlying Verizon mobile 5G meets the 5G NR standard developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards body, the company said. A total of 30 Verizon mobile 5G markets, specifically 5G Ultra Wideband markets based on the 5G NR standard, are expected to launch in 2019. The Verizon news comes just a few weeks after AT&T added Chicago and Minneapolis to the list of cities where it expects to roll out 5G service in 2019. It seems unlikely that the news was a coincidence. Instead, it seems more likely that AT&T learned of Verizon’s deployment and made the announcement to dissuade its own customers from switching to Verizon.
It would seem virtually impossible for a carrier to deploy a mobile network in a major market without other industry stakeholders learning of it.
Verizon Mobile 5G
The 5G moto mod will retail for $349.99 but Verizon has a special introductory price of $50. The moto z3 smartphone that the 5G moto mod works with launched in August with a price of $480 and a trade-in offer to take as much as $300 off that cost. The moto z3 works on Verizon’s earlier generation networks if 5G is not available.
Verizon will begin taking orders for the 5G moto mod tomorrow. Rival carrier AT&T previously launched mobile 5G service in 12 markets, with plans for at least nine more markets this year, but that service also lacks a dedicated smartphone. Instead, the service is supported initially by a mobile hotspot. Both carriers were able to launch their networks before dedicated smartphones were available. Those smartphones are expected to hit the market this year.
Verizon previously launched a non-standard version of 5G to support fixed service in four markets to support an offering the company calls 5G Home.