Cellular technology is about to make an evolutionary leap. 5G is almost here. But you’re gonna have to wait a little longer. Here’s why.
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Verizon is finally ready to start turning on its mobile 5G network, and tapping into it won’t cost a lot more than current 4G LTE.
The nation’s largest carrier announced that it will be turning on its mobile 5G network in Chicago and Minneapolis on April 11, with owners of its first 5G-capable phone, the Moto Z3, being able to tap into the network through a separate $50 accessory.
Labeling their network “5G ultra wideband,” the new service will cost $10 more per month than the company’s existing 4G LTE service for unlimited data.
Users on any of Verizon’s unlimited data plans will be able to upgrade lines to tap into 5G, with the company waiving the $10 5G “add-on” monthly fee for the first three months.
Verizon is requiring an unlimited data plan to use 5G.
Released last year, the Moto Z3 has a 6.01-inch display, 64GB of storage and a thin design that allows you to attach accessories such as a projector or a more traditional camera. This module system, known as “moto mods,” also allows for the phone to get 5G with the proper adapter.
This 5G Moto Mod promises to turn Motorola’s Z3 smartphone into a 5G-capable phone. (Photo: Motorola)
The phone currently retails for $480 with Verizon offering the 5G mod for $50 (normally $349.99 at retail) for a “limited time” starting on March 14. Phones with 5G built in, including Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy S10 5G, are expected to come out in the first half of 2019.
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5G may be live, but it won’t be everywhere
Unlike the home 5G network Verizon turned on in four cities last year this 5G network is designed to be used by mobile devices. As with other new networks, however, don’t expect to find 5G throughout Chicago or Minneapolis right away.
According to the Verizon’s website for the 5G moto mod, Chicago service will initially be “concentrated in The Loop, specifically areas of the West Loop and the South Loop, around landmarks such as Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and The Chicago Theatre.”
Coverage in the area will also extend to the Verizon store on “The Magnificent Mile, and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North.”
Minneapolis users, meanwhile, will primarily find 5G in the city’s downtown area, including “Downtown West and Downtown East, around landmarks such as the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Central Library, the Mill City Museum, Target Center and First Avenue venues, The Commons as well as inside and around U.S. Bank Stadium.”
The new network will also be available in “areas of Elliot Park,” as well as the Verizon store at the Mall of America.
AT&T launched 5G in 12 cities late last year, though it has yet to release a phone. Sprint said it will turn on its 5G network in four cities in May – including Chicago – with the LG V50 ThinQ 5G being its first compatible 5G phone.
T-Mobile will have 5G as well, though it has yet to disclose when and where it will turn on its first networks.
Verizon has promised to launch 5G in over 30 cities in 2019, though it is unclear which cities will be next or when they will go online.
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal
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