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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 28 US cities, which isn't as many as you might expect given it was first to launch.
Verizon's CEO Hans Vestberg stated recently that the corporation is targeting at least 50 percent coverage of the US in 2020. The network is committed to focus on 5G in the highband mmWave spectrum (see below for more on this).
Verizon isn't planning on launching nationwide lowband 5G (which doesn't provide much better speeds than 4G) unlike rivals T-Mobile and AT&T.
"All of our spectrum is capable of deploying 5G, so it's not like we can't do what others have been doing," said Verizon's executive vice president Ronan Dunne .
"On the basis of what we've seen so far, that doesn't provide any differentiation in either speed or coverage relative to Verizon."
Verizon 5G Home Internet will also be coming to more locations, too, although this extended rollout has now been delayed until later in 2020.
Verizon has also enabled its 5G service in 13 NFL stadiums in time for NFL Kickoff Weekend 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 has also partnered with Wi-Fi provider Boingo to bring its 5G Ultra Wideband service indoors to places like airports, office buildings, stadiums and other public spaces.
It also recently partnered with Disney for the premiere of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker where it demonstrated streaming footage (over 5G of course) with actors from another location acting as two Sith troopers.
Those wanting to take part in the demo at the premiere afterparty could interact with the actors in real-time, even though they were several miles away. Another demo took place in New York to show people in Times Square what it was like to be on the red carpet for the Oscars 2020 ceremony 2,500 miles away in Los Angeles.
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 has been busy making 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.
"In the 5G era, they're losing their network crown," saidT-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, in a recent blog post.
“They've painted themselves into a technology corner with a 5G strategy focused on millimeter wave. They bet on the wrong horse, and now they're trying to advertise their way out of it."
But T-Mobile's approach also can be criticised for the relatively low speeds it is providing consumers with on its low-band 5G network with speeds not much better than 4G LTE.
Verizon's network is currently only available in selected areas of each city - so while speeds are great, coverage isn't as yet, although a quick look at the New York coverage map (below), shows that things are heading in the right direction.
A total of 31 US locations have received Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband since the network launched.
Aside from the NFL stadium announcement, Verizon last expanded its 5G network in December 2019 with 10 new locations including Los Angeles.
The list of latest 5G-enabled Verizon locations is: Los Angeles, Des Moines, Hoboken, Memphis, Miami, Salt Lake City, Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina; Grand Rapids, Michigan and Spokane, Washington.
However, there are a bunch of other locations that Verizon had previously announced but that are not yet live - these are Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, Little Rock, Arkansas, Kansas City, Missouri and San Diego, California.
Mind you, it's difficult to get away from the thought that 5G 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 says it will increase the number of US cities with mmWave 5G to 60 in 2020, although aside from the locations above hasn't yet named any more locations. Like other networks, it is also planning on using 'advanced 4G' access (LTE Advanced) augment its 5G services in rural areas.
The current roster of cities is: Atlanta, Boise, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New York City, Omaha, Panama City, Phoenix, Providence, St. Paul and Washington, D.C.
Next on Verizon's list for the rollout is Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Houston, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Salt Lake City and San Diego.
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
Verizon now has five 5G-enabled smartphones available for customers - the LG V50 ThinQ 5G plus four Samsung phones - the new Galaxy S20+ and S20 Ultra as well as the Galaxy S10 5G and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G.
Then there's the Motorola moto z3 and z4 which need to be combined with the 5G moto mod. As you'll hear, this isn't a very well-priced way of upgrading to 5G.
Finally, Verizon is offering the Inseego 5G Mi-Fi M1000 hotspot to bring 5G services to other devices.
Coincidentally, the hotspot will set you back $500 on a two-year contract, so it's not a cheap option at the moment - especially given current Verizon coverage.
Verizon says it is seriously ramping up the numbers of 5G devices it is launching in 2020 - as many as 20 handsets.
LG V50 ThinQ
LG's first 5G phone packs a 6.4-inch display with support for HDR including Dolby Vision and HDR 10). Like the OnePlus and Samsung phones it's based around Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 platform with the chip designer's X55 5G modem on board as well as 6GB of memory to keep things pacy.
There's also 128GB of storage in addition to a triple rear camera and dual front camera. The V50 ThinQ is also IP68 dust and waterproof. Overall, a well-designed phone, but not one that sticks out from the crowd.
Motorola Moto mod
Lenovo-owned Moto had a rather unique way to make a 5G phone when it launched into the market a year ago - it took a standard mid-range 4G phone (the Z3) and added a 5G-capable accessory as part of Moto's 'mod' system - it had the distinction of being the world's first 5G handset. The Z4 has since launched and is also compatible with the mod, while you can also now attach it to the older Z2, too. But the 5G mod isn't cheap at $349.99 - on top of the phone.
Because of that pricing, you're probably better off opting for one of the more standard 5G handsets that have now arrived on Verizon.
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.
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
A Verizon exclusive to start with, the Samsung's S10 5G was Samsung's first 5G phone and remains an excellent choice with the ability to achieve great 5G speeds.
Available in silver and black, it's a very sizeable handset - there isn't a lot to choose between it and the Note 5G below - at 6.7-inches it's actually larger than many past Note series handsets. There's a distinctive front-facing dual camera that's an integral part of the display - you may find this irritating or not depending on your point of view. And you get a quad camera on the rear, too.
It's very different than the standard S10 inside with plenty of cooling so that the 5G hardware doesn't get too hot. Again it boasts Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 platform and X55 modem (handsets outside the US are based on Samsung's own Exynos platform).
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G
The Note 10+ 5G is another large Samsung handset at 6.8-inches and opts for a single front camera punched high in the middle-top of the display. There's aslo a triple camera on the rear.
Like every other Note phone there's ever been, Note 10+ 5G comes with the S Pen stylus. If you don't want to have a stylus with your phone then go for the S10 5G above instead because you're paying for a feature you don't need - you're paying a premium for this handset as it is.
Again the US version of the Note 10+ 5G is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 instead of the Samsung Exynos 9825 processor and 5G modem used elsewhere. You get a high-capacity 4,300mAh battery, too.
Verizon 5G coverage
Even though Verizon has rolled out 5G services in cities so far, the coverage is hit-and-miss to say the least and it's concentrated in very specific areas for now. We've even heard about being able to get 5G on one side of the street and not the other.
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 (although not Sprint). However, unlike those other networks it doesn't yet have a mid-band offering, meaning it is prioritizing speed over coverage,
This means that performance is excellent and will mean that Verizon has more bandwidth, but it is harder to roll out than networks using the mid-band spectrum like Sprint and operators in other territories such as the UK.
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.
However, 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 (that's where the mid-band services that Sprint is offering have an advantage). And mmWave services work mainly outdoors at the moment.
However, through using spectrum sharing on 4G hardware, it is possible that a wider rollout can take place.
In terms of speeds seen so far, 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.
However, Verizon has officially won more spectrum in the 37GHz, 39GHz and 47GHz spectrum bands in the latest 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.
The new spectrum will be used to further enhance the rollout of mmWave services across the US, predominantly in cities.
More mid-band spectrum sales are planned by the FCC for later in 2020.
Verizon 5G deals
You can access the 5G Ultra Wideband network on a 5G phone through three of Verizon's selection of four Unlimited plans.
Access to 5G Ultra Wideband is, strictly speaking, a premium add-on costing $10/month, but it is currently included free for a limited time if you buy a 5G phone, presumably to encourage more customers to take up a 5G phone.
The three tariffs are Play More Unlimited ($80/month), Do More Unlimited ($80/month) and Get More Unlimited ($90/month). The $70 Start Unlimited tariff isn't available for 5G. All the Unlimited tariffs include free access to Apple Music.
All of the Unlimited tariffs are restricted for streaming quality on 4G - Play More and Get More only give you 720p streaming which is poor. However, if you've added 5G onto the tariff you can stream unlimited video in 4K and also hotspot with no limits, too.
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 - listed above.
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).
Verizon says that it plans to bring the 5G Home service to everywhere it rolls out a 5G mobile network.
But a Verizon executive has been quoted by Light Reading as saying the rollout is now on hold pending a new generation of 5G equipment that will appear later in 2020. The new gear is at the customer end and not the network end. The new 5G routers will be able to pick up signals from base stations that are further away, meaning that the potential customer base is much greater as a result.
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.