Verizon has now announced that it has turned on its 5G Ultra Wideband service ahead of the scheduled April 11 launch in areas of Minneapolis and Chicago. That means that Verizon customers with compatible smartphones in select portions of the two cities can now access the web and data services at a claimed peak speeds of up to 1Gbps. That’s compared to the average expected speeds of around 450 Mbps with latency hovering at around 30 milliseconds.
Coverage is limited, for now, to relatively small regions of the cities but Verizon has been somewhat more forthcoming about that this time around -- as compared to initial claimed coverage for its home-based 5G services. For Chicago, 5G is restricted to ‘areas’ of the West Loop and South Loop with concentration focused on landmark city locations and at least one Verizon retail location on The Magnificent Mile. The next-generation network is also present ‘throughout’ The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North
In Minneapolis, a similar 'landmarks'-based coverage is on offer, extending to the U.S. Bank Stadium and over concentrated areas of Downtown West and Downtown East.
How to access ...if you're in the small percentage of users that can
Unsurprisingly, because this is the very first initial rollout of Verizon's 5G, the available gadgets are understandably as limited as the network. To start, only the Moto Z3 equipped with the Verizon-exclusive 5G moto mod is going to be able to access service.
Details about the device and mod were outed by the service provider back in early March and those don't appear to have changed in the meantime but the pricing of that has gone up slightly. Set on sale prior to the launch of 5G, the mod cost just $50 at the time of the announcement.
Verizon is still offering a way for users to get the gadget without paying the full retail cost but it will now need to be bought outright or on a $10 per month plan -- the same cost as 5G service itself. That price will only be available on new lines or via an upgrade.
Subscribers will also need to already own and have activated or purchase a Moto Z3 handset at the same time to go with the mod in order to buy the 5G attachment.
With the Moto Z3 and 5G moto mod, customers will be able to access the service and will automatically be routed back to 4G LTE where 5G isn't available.
More coming soon
5G coverage from Verizon is still expected to span across at least 30 US cities by the end of the year and it isn't unlikely that current coverage in Minneapolis and Chicago will grow over that time too.
Compatible devices will grow in short order as well with the launch of Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S10 5G, set to be offered as a timed-exclusive on the carrier's network. That will arrive sometime in the "first half of 2019" so there's no solid timeframe for the gadget just yet and it will likely be among the most expensive handsets to launch this year. But that's all to be expected with the launch of a new generation of mobile networking.