Verizon’s 5G network is coming. After months of vague statements, the carrier has finally announced that its 5G network will launch on April 11th in Chicago and Minneapolis, making it the first publicly available 5G network in the US that actually supports smartphones. Verizon also announced that its next-gen mobile service will cost $10 more per month on top of its existing three unlimited plans.
The new prices will now start at $85 per month for the base Go Unlimited plan for a single line (which is always subject to throttling and only offers slow hot spot speeds and 480p video); $95 per month for the Beyond Unlimited (22GB of unthrottled LTE, 15GB of LTE hot spot, and 720p video); and $105 for the Above Unlimited plan (75GB of LTE before throttling, 20GB of LTE hot spot, 720p video, and a few other perks).
The good news is that, at least for now, Verizon isn’t holding users to those data throttling limits for 5G. According to the company, “5G data usage with the moto mod is unlimited with no data de-prioritization,” even for users on plans that ordinarily would. In other words, Verizon is offering true, unlimited data to customers with 5G, although the real test will be to see whether that continues as 5G continues to roll out.
Still, the extra $10 a month on top of its already pricey plans is a bit disappointing since T-Mobile has already promised not to raise prices on customers for its 5G network when it launches sometime in the second half of 2019.
The first phone available for customers to use with the 5G network be the Moto Z3 with the 5G Moto Mod, but Verizon has already announced several other 5G phones set for release later this year, including Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G and LG’s V50 ThinQ.
Verizon has been calling its 5G network its “5G Ultra Wideband Network,” and the carrier will be relying on millimeter wave spectrum at least in part to deliver its 5G speeds. Verizon isn’t offering any hard estimates of what those 5G speeds will actually look like in the launch cities, only promising vague platitudes like “ultra-fast speeds” and ”ultra low lag time.”
Unlike the company’s existing 5G Home service that it made available in Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Indianapolis last year, which was built on the 5G TF specification that no one else is using, the new mobile 5G network is built on the standardized 5G NR specification set by the 3GPP. Unfortunately, that means that Verizon’s 5G phones will only get 5G connectivity in cities that use Verizon’s new, standards-based 5G NR network. Bring one to Houston, Sacramento, or one of the other 5G TF cities, and you’re out of luck, despite the fact that there is technically Verizon 5G there.
The initial rollout of 5G for Chicago and Minneapolis will also be limited. In Chicago, Verizon says that it’ll be concentrating service on The Loop (especially near landmarks like Union Station, Millennium Park, and the Willis Tower) as well as in the Gold Coast, River North, and Old Town areas. Verizon’s store on “the Magnificent Mile” will also offer 5G service.
Minneapolis will see a similar concentration, focused on the Downtown West, Downtown East, and Elliot Park areas of the city, with a focus on landmarks like the Minneapolis Convention Center as well as the Target Center and U.S. Bank Stadium sports venues, along with the Verizon store in the Mall of America.