Verizon today officially made its mobile 5G service available to customers in Chicago and Minneapolis who have the moto z3 5G-enabled smartphone and a 5G moto mod. The smartphone has been available since late last year but could not be used on a 5G network until customers added the moto mod, a module that attaches to the smartphone to enable 5G.
Verizon beat its originally announced launch date by one week.
Verizon Mobile 5G
Customers with the appropriate devices should expect “typical download speeds” of 450 Mbps, with peak speeds of nearly 1 Gbps and latency less than 30 milliseconds, Verizon said.
Those are impressive speeds that outpace what customers in many areas can get even with wired broadband offerings, and they are made possible, in part, by Verizon’s use of broad swaths of millimeter wave spectrum to support the offering. The company uses the marketing term “5G Ultra Wideband” to denote service delivered over that spectrum band.
The downside to using millimeter wave spectrum is that range is limited, in comparison with service operating in lower-frequency bands. Verizon has said these concerns have been overblown. Nevertheless, today’s press release details specific areas of Chicago and Minneapolis in which 5G Ultra Wideband is available, indicating that the company has not yet been able to blanket either city with the service. Service will fall back on Verizon’s LTE network where 5G Ultra Wideband is not available, and Verizon has indicated plans to deploy 5G in other spectrum bands in the future.
AT&T also is using millimeter wave spectrum for its initial mobile 5G service, which launched prior to Verizon’s mobile 5G offering. But as of now, AT&T customers must rely on a mobile hotspot that provides connectivity to the customer’s smartphone via Wi-Fi.
Sprint said previously that it would be the first company to offer a 5G smartphone, which it said would come from LG, but Verizon appears to have beat Sprint to the punch, assuming the use of a smartphone plus a module counts as the first smartphone.
In December, Verizon said it plans to have a 5G smartphone from Samsung in the first half of 2019, which apparently won’t require an extra module. AT&T also has announced plans for a Samsung 5G smartphone in the first half of 2019.