Fulfilling Its marketing promise for 2019, but this is only partial — and very limited — coverage in each of these markets
By Sascha Segan, Dec 23, 2019 | Original PC Magazine article
Verizon fulfilled the marketing promise it made to have 5G in 30 cities, but that isn’t translating into broad coverage across those metro areas. See more here —> https://www.verizon.com/about/news/
Verizon launched three more 5G cities today — Columbus, Cleveland, and Hampton Roads — fulfilling its promise to have 30 US cities live with its millimeter-wave 5G service by the end of the year. Hampton Roads includes Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Newport News, so Verizon probably could have claimed even more cities, had it wanted to do so.
Verizon’s coverage maps haven’t kept up with its rush of recent city launches, with its page of maps standing at 17 cities—16, if you count Minneapolis/St. Paul as one. Our examinations of the maps, and our tests in New York, show that coverage is relatively limited within each city and that the maps may overstate the coverage people can actually see on Verizon’s half-dozen retail 5G phones. On its 5G coverage page, Verizon says that Kansas City and Little Rock are "coming soon."
Follow this link for city coverage maps.
Verizon’s fulfilled promise marks the end of 5G’s inaugural year, which looked more driven by carriers’ desperate need to fulfill marketing-driven promises rather than by providing widespread new consumer capabilities.
The list of disappointing marketing claims started back in 2018, when Verizon and AT&T both proclaimed they had "launched" 5G. But Verizon’s version wasn’t the international standard, and AT&T refused to give any details of its coverage areas. All throughout 2019, carriers then made advance promises that they technically fulfilled, but disappointingly so.
T-Mobile said it would launch 5G during the first half; it did so in parts of six cities, using one phone that it has sold relatively few units of, on a technology that’s currently incompatible with its later launches; and the company hasn’t expanded that tech’s coverage.
Sprint proclaimed nine cities, and then got stuck at nine cities.
Verizon has fulfilled its 30-city pledge, but we estimate it’s covering only a few million people, because of the very limited coverage within each city.
The marketing cart has been pulling the network horse, forcing carriers to unveil premature "mission accomplished" banners to fulfill promises and to look like they’re keeping up with the foreign Joneses.
Potential for 2020
US carriers have a much harder row to hoe than foreign 5G carriers, because we’re short of the most ideal wireless spectrum for 5G. 5G can work on an extremely wide range of frequencies, but the sweet spot appears to be "mid-band," a range from 2,500 MHz to 7,000 MHz which is just above most 4G systems. While countries in Europe and Asia auctioned mid-band spectrum for 5G, the US has had trouble reclaiming it from the satellite companies and military users who hold it. One US carrier does have mid-band—Sprint. But it’s been so consumed by its merger drama with T-Mobile that its rollout is stalled. That has left the rest of the US carriers stuck with
- low-band (broad coverage but slow, basically just like 4G, for now) and
- high-band (fast but really short-range and difficult to build, like Verizon is using.)
The first phones that can handle low-, mid-, and high-band all together will start to appear in February 2020. By March, we expect to see 5G home-internet devices, which have been delayed through all of 2019. Millimeter-wave, high-band coverage will most likely improve throughout the year, if the US Courts of Appeals do not interrupt this expansion. If T-Mobile and Sprint merge, their mid-band network will be more coordinated. The first 5G iPhone will likely come in September, and by the end of the year, the FCC should auction a large swath of mid-band spectrum called the C-Band.
2019’s 5G promises were made too early. As always, we will continue to track 5G rollouts on our Race to 5G page. Verizon won’t get credit for its new cities until it posts maps, though.
Verizon 5G Goes Live in Three Major Sports Arenas
Verizon Wireless has announced that its 5G Ultra Wideband service is now live in three big sports and entertainment arenas in Denver, San Francisco, and Phoenix. The service will be expanded to cover a total of 10 arenas in coming months, according to the company, which is working to bring its ultra-fast mobile broadband to a number of big venues.
As of now, Verizon 5G service is available in the Pepsi Center in Denver, the Chase Center in San Francisco, and Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. Visitors who have smartphones that are compatible with Verizon’s 5G network can use it to access ultra-fast mobile speeds, greatly improving the ability to stream video, upload images, and more.
The connectivity will be particularly useful for vendors, sports teams, and others who can utilize the network for connecting smart gadgets to the Internet, having a backup alternative to WiFi, processing transactions directly at customer seats using tablets, and more.
These three arenas join the 13 NFL stadiums that recently received Verizon 5G coverage. Going forward, the service provider says it plans to also bring its 5G network to Madison Square Garden soon, though it doesn’t name any of the other destinations it has in the pipeline.
Talking about the expansion is Verizon VP of Tech Heidi Hemmer, who said:
"Verizon is leading in 5G development and is transforming how entire industries operate ranging from entertainment to manufacturing, Having this next generation technology in large venues like arenas should not only enhance the game-day experience for sports fans, but provide greater bandwidth for concert-goers, visitors or businesses working inside the venue."