The Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network was the first 5G technology service to launch globally.
The network started rolling out 5G with Verizon 5G Home Internet (see below) at first, subsequently launching the first commercial 5G mobile network globally in April 2019. It's now live in more than 60 US cities, which isn't as many as you might expect given it was first to launch. The network is committed to focus on 5G in the highband mmWave spectrum (see below for more on this).
Then, Verizon has followed rivals T-Mobile and AT&T to launch nationwide low-band 5G (which doesn't provide much better speeds than 4G and uses dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS). This enables Verizon's 5G service to run simultaneously with 4G LTE on multiple spectrum bands.
Verizon was very successful in the recent US C-Band auction and the company spent over $50 billion to secure between 140 and 200 Mhz of C-Band spectrum in every available market. C-Band is mid-band, which is currently the world's most popular for 5G.
As a result Verizon says it expects to offer more 5G bandwidth to around 100 million people over the next 12 months. Verizon believes it can cover more than 175 million people and by 2024, when the remaining C-Band is cleared, more than 250 million people are expected to have access to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband.
Verizon has also enabled its 5G service in 13 NFL stadiums including Bank of America Stadium, Empower Field at Mile High, CenturyLink Field, Ford Field, Gillette Stadium, Hard Rock Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, MetLife Stadium, M&T Bank Stadium, NRG Stadium, Soldier Field and U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Verizon 5G service will be available in selected areas of each stadium - the network says it is concentrated in parts of the seating area but service may be available in other areas.
Verizon is also working with Zyter to improve fan health in stadia: Zyter ThermalAlert can automatically monitor the temperatures of fans as they walk into a venue. Check out how that works here:
Verizon also teamed up with Wi-Fi provider Boingo to bring its 5G Ultra Wideband service indoors to places like airports, office buildings, stadiums and other public spaces.
And Verizon has also joined up with Emory Healthcare to test 5G applications in the healthcare industry. "The potential of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband combined with mobile edge computing to transform healthcare is limitless," said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon.
"With 5G, doctors should be able to do things like create holographic 3D anatomical renderings that can be studied from every angle and even projected onto the body in the OR to help guide surgery."
Verizon 5G cities
T-Mobile originally made fun of Verizon's 5G rollout with a campaign targeting Verizon's limited rollout, concentrating on mmWave locations rather than a wider low-band rollout.
But Verizon is also now using lower band technology to bring a lower spec service to a wider audience.
Verizon's mmWave network - known as 5G Ultra Wideband - is only available in selected areas of each city - so while speeds are great, coverage isn't as yet.
More than 60 US locations have received Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband since the network launched.
Mind you, it's difficult to get away from the thought that 5G Ultra Wideband coverage is still in its infancy because of the sparse coverage and you can see why Verizon might have been reluctant to release the maps previously.
Verizon's lower band offering is called 5G Nationwide. It uses dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) meaning it can run alongside 4G LTE. Verizon says the service is currently available for more than 230 million people across 2,700 cities in the US.
There is a full guide to the areas covered in each US city at Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband FAQ page - as we've mentioned elsewhere, coverage is patchy.
Verizon 5G phones
You’ll need to have a 5G phone to take advantage of 5G networks, of course. Verizon has devices from Apple, Samsung, LG, Google, Motorola, OnePlus, Nokia and TCL available currently for its network.
Apple iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini
As well as the standard iPhone 12, there's also a new iPhone 12 mini and both are available on Verizon. The iPhone 12 series is Apple's first range of 5G phones. They use Qualcomm modems inside. The standard iPhone 12 is the pick of the entire series at 6.1-inches. Both iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini are available in Black, White, Red, Green and Blue.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
The iPhone 12 Pro is the same 6.1-inch size as the standard iPhone 12, but the Pro Max steps things up a gear to 6.7-inches, making it the largest-ever screen on an iPhone. It includes a few extra camera smarts over the other models and low light performance is quite remarkable. However, you've got to really want an extra camera lens to step up to the Pro, as well as the super-sized screen if you go as far as the Pro Max.
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
This year's S Series phone is one of the best we've ever seen, though Samsung's everyday flagship is no longer a rarity - the rest of the smartphone market has caught up. However, Samsung is still using pretty top-notch tech here, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 platform in addition to a stunning 6.2-inch AMOLED display. The camera system is much improved from earlier versions, while the battery life is pretty great, too.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
The 6.8-inch S21 Ultra is huge and rather more expensive than its brother. It is definitely the best S21 if you can afford it, largely because of its five-camera setup which includes a 10x optical zoom, the best zoom of any phone camera. Like the standard S21 it runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. It even has support for the S Pen, usually found on the Galaxy Note.
Samsung Galaxy S20+
The standard S20 isn't available in the US - presumably, Samsung feels that last year's handsets can do a job there - so the torch has been given to the Galaxy S20+ to lead the way. Yes, there's the S20 Ultra, below, but not everybody wants a maxxed out phone with a 100x zoom. The S20+ has most of its smarts, with a 6.7-inch screen only slightly smaller. And it still has a quad-camera setup, too, complete with 3x hybrid zoom and super-resolution 30x zoom.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Verizon is offering the range-topping S20 Ultra in both 128GB and 512GB versions in cosmic gray and black. The 6.9-inch S20 Ultra has an incredible 108 MP camera with a 100x zoom which, although not strictly necessary, produces some quite unbelievable results. The 3,200 x 1,440 display is a punchy OLED screen with fast 120 Hz refresh rate for brilliant results. What's more, it's capable of 8K video recording, too.
Verizon 5G coverage
Even though Verizon has rolled out mmWave 5G services in 60 cities so far, the coverage is hit-and-miss to say the least and it's concentrated in very specific areas for now.
Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband network - as it is calling it - uses the high-frequency mmWave (millimeter wave) technology also favoured by AT&T and T-Mobile. Of course, one of the big benefits of 5G is vastly reduced latency and increased speed, and it's here that you see the difference with mmWave.
In a comparison of 5G network speeds last year by Opensignal, Verizon took the top spot, beating the competition by some margin. Indeed, the Verizon 5G network has a peak speed of 390Mbps faster than the closest US network.
Verizon's videos show speeds in excess of 1Gbps at times, although you should expect speeds in the low hundreds of Mbps as normal, faster in specific areas.
Availability was another story. mmWave has a problem - while it's great for close-together cell sites in large cities, it's not so good for a rollout involving more rural areas where Verizon's 5G Nationwide service has to take a front seat. And mmWave services work mainly outdoors at the moment. We've even heard about being able to get 5G on one side of the street and not the other.
Verizon officially won more spectrum in the 37GHz, 39GHz and 47GHz spectrum bands in the relevant FCC sale along with AT&T - between them the networks spent around $3 billion on the new spectrum. Spectrum is by far the most valuable commodity a network can own. Verizon shelled out an impressive $1.624 billion for 4,940 licenses in total. This spectrum will be used to further enhance the rollout of mmWave services across the US, predominantly in cities.
And now in early 2021 Verizon has spent $52.9 billion on doubling its existing mid-band spectrum holdings. "Since we began building 5G, we have had a first-mover advantage," said Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon. "We are more than a year ahead in building and selling mmWave with our 5G Ultra Wideband service and still the only company with commercial Mobile Edge Compute.
"Now we intend to extend our lead by accelerating our deployment of C-Band. Our new C-Band position combined with our mmWave, means we are the only carrier suited to deploy the fastest, most powerful 5G experience to the most people - or as we call it, 5G built right."
Verizon 5G deals
Verizon's Prepaid Unlimited plan now offers 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Nationwide.
The $75/mo Unlimited plan includes 5G Nationwide and Ultra Wideband where available. 10GB of 5G Nationwide and 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot is included in that plan.,
The three other Unlimited tariffs are Play More Unlimited ($45/month), Do More Unlimited ($45/month) and Get More Unlimited ($55/month).
The $35 Start Unlimited tariff is only available for 5G Nationwide rather than 5G Ultra Wideband. All the Unlimited tariffs include various perks such as free Disney+, Hulu and ESPN or free access to Apple Music.
Verizon 5G Home Internet
Verizon 5G Home Internet is being offered in very limited areas for now but the Verizon provides its own 5G router, made by Wistron. Naturally, it is restricted to the areas that 5G service is available in.
The service is free for the first three months, after which it's $50 a month providing you have another current Verizon Wireless plan over $30. (If you don't have this, it's $70 per month).
Ronan Dunne - executive vice president of Verizon's consumer business - mentioned Verizon's 5G Home target of covering 30 million US households within 5-7 years. We've heard that main number before, but it's good to hear that is still the target.
Verizon is being conservative with the duration of the target, primarily because the target market for 5G Home - those who live in suburban areas and other residential zones - aren't in locations where 5G networks are currently being built; most 5G rollout is taking place in dense urban areas.
Verizon 5G business
Verizon says the 5G era is all about fast, clear connections between people and devices and that there are huge benefits for businesses ready to step onto the wagon. Indeed, Verizon says that 5G Ultra Wideband is "paving the way for a new era of business innovations with ultra-fast speeds with ultra-low lag time, so your business will be able to compete like never before".
Verizon is also co-operating with other big network names globally including Telstra and Vodafone on a 5G specification group called the 5G Future Forum. The goal is to provide standardised practices so that businesses can rely on. The mission is defined as aiming to "accelerate the delivery of 5G and mobile edge computing" globally.
According to Ericsson's This is 5G report (PDF), speed and lower latency are among the key 5g attributes that will bring new opportunities to business as Verizon's network rolls out.
Verizon is also extolling the potential of 5G for healthcare and is in talks with Walmart to install a 5G-based healthcare system in-store. The service would enable customer data to flow between the store and a clinic so customers can pick up the medical supplies they need.
For Verizon, the benefit of having real-world use cases for its 5G service are clear, while Walmart will be able to become the default choice for medical supplies for some customers.