In some parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, the answer is yes. Here’s where 5G service and phones will pop up next.
By Bree Fowler, April 4, 2019 | Original Consumer Reports article here.
The age of 5G network service is finally here. On Wednesday, Verizon officially turned on 5G service in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis. Motorola has also started selling a $200 attachment that makes its Motorola Z3 phone 5G-compatible.
That means — for the first time — a small number of American consumers now have access to 5G connectivity and a phone that supports it. All four of the major telecommunications carriers say they’ll have 5G networks up and running by this summer, but only in select parts of a few big cities. A handful of smartphone makers, big and small, plan to offer compatible 5G phones around the same time.
According to telecommunications experts, 5G speeds are five times faster than those of 4G connections at peak performance and will eventually allow users to download a movie in just 5 seconds. Motorola’s launch technically beats out devices from Samsung and LG. That’s largely because the company has chosen to create an attachment, which plugs into the Motorola Z3 released last summer, to make it 5G-compatible rather than build a new phone from scratch.
Verizon will offer Samsung’s first 5G phone, the Galaxy S10 5G, this spring. The phone will reach the other carriers later in the summer.
LG’s first 5G phone, the V50 ThinQ, is expected to launch on Sprint’s network in the first half of this year.
Samsung and LG have yet to release pricing information for their 5G phones, but given that they’re souped-up versions of flagship models, they’re almost certain to exceed $1,000.
Here’s a look at the broader 5G landscape, including which parts of the U.S. should expect to get 5G service first.
The carrier’s 5G service has officially started in Chicago and Minneapolis, though it’s currently limited to a few high-profile neighborhoods and the areas surrounding flagship Verizon stores. If you live elsewhere, you’re going to have to wait. Verizon plans to roll out 5G service to more than 30 U.S. cities this year.
To use Verizon’s 5G network, you’re going to have to pay $10 per device on top of the fee for an unlimited plan, though Verizon is currently waiving these charges for the first three months of service. The 5G service will be unlimited as well, and Verizon says there will be no throttling of data speeds, even when the network gets busy. You can also tether your laptop to a 5G-enabled phone for use as a hot spot without paying an extra charge.
Phone options: As mentioned before, Verizon will carry the now-launched 5G-enabled Motorola Z3 exclusively. It also will carry the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G when it launches.
This carrier has come under fire from other carriers for labeling its high-speed 4G service “5G Evolution,” potentially misleading consumers into thinking it’s genuine 5G.
AT&T rolled out real 5G service in small parts of 12 U.S. cities this year:
- Louisville, Ky
- New Orleans
- Oklahoma City
- Raleigh, N.C.
- San Antonio
But that’s only for select businesses and consumers. And because 5G smartphones aren’t yet commercially available, there’s not a whole lot you can do with the service just yet. The company plans to roll out service to nine more cities this year: Chicago; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; Orlando, Fla.; San Diego; San Francisco; and San Jose, Calif. And it expects to have a nationwide 5G network in place by early 2020.
Phone options: The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will be available this summer, and AT&T says it’s working with Samsung to make another 5G smartphone available in the second half of this year.
A company spokesperson says T-Mobile, which hopes to merge with Sprint, expects to have a 5G network in place when the Galaxy S10 5G goes on sale this summer but would not say which markets will be covered.
T-Mobile plans to launch a nationwide network in 2020. And while the company won’t reveal specific pricing, it says that a united T-Mobile and Sprint will not charge extra for 5G service, according to current plans.
Phone options: T-Mobile says only that it will carry multiple 5G devices by the end of this year.
While it has yet to release any 5G pricing information, Sprint says it’s set to roll out service in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City, Kan., this May. But like Verizon, the carrier won’t provide coverage citywide, only in select spots.
Parts of Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C., will get service before the end of June.
Phone options: The soon-to-launch LG V50 ThinQ 5G will be the first compatible device. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will follow this summer.