Mark your calendars for April 11, because that’s when Verizon switches on its “real” 5G network in two U.S. cities.
Verizon’s “5G Ultra Wideband Network” is the real deal — it works with phones and other mobile devices just like 4G LTE — and isn’t to be confused with the company’s “home” 5G network, which launched last year in select cities.
This is great news because it means there will actually be a working 5G network to use the handful of new 5G smartphones launching this year on.
But there is some fine print to be aware of. Because, of course, there is!
First, the 5G network’s only launching in Chicago and Minneapolis on April 11. Live in a different city? Tough luck! You won’t be getting 5G yet.
Verizon says its new 5G network will launch in “more than 30 markets” in 2019, but stopped short at announcing rollout dates for any other U.S. cities.
There is some fine print to be aware of.
Second, bumping up to 5G speeds will cost you an extra $10 per month, though Verizon will give you the first three months for free. This extra monthly cost applies to “any Verizon unlimited plan, including Verizon Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited or Above Unlimited plans.”
And lastly, the only phone that will work with Verizon’s 5G network at launch will be the Moto Z3, which must be paired with the 5G Moto Mod. If you already own a Moto Z3, then great! All you need is to buy the bulky module, which will be available for pre-order on March 14 for a heavily discounted $50 for a limited time. After the pre-order period, it’ll return back to its regular $350 sticker price, which is a bit pricey if you ask us.
Early adopters who live in Chicago or Minneapolis will no doubt pounce at the opportunity to hop onto a 5G network that promises to bring significantly faster data speeds and more bandwidth for devices, but we recommend waiting for proper phones with built-in 5G modems to come out first.
Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G, which is a larger, beefier version of the Galaxy S10+ and comes with a fourth rear camera, looks like it could be the first 5G phone for Verizon that won’t be a brick in your pants the way the Moto Z3 with 5G Moto Mod is. Samsung’s said the S10 5G will launch in Q2 of this year, which means it could launch as early as April.
As we’ve said many times: Carriers and device makers will be slinging 5G around hard this year. Though 5G will be a hot topic this year, there’s a lot we don’t know yet.
It’s in everyone’s best interest to wait until all 5G networks are live from the major U.S. carriers so that we can get a better picture of which cities will get it this year and how much it’ll cost. For example, while Verizon’s charging $10 extra per month for “unlimited” 5G, T-Mobile’s committed to not raising prices for 5G plans for the next three years. That’s an important factor to consider.
5G will start rolling out this year, but it isn’t something anyone should seriously consider until 2020.