After years of hype, carriers are finally turning on their 5G networks. Just don’t be surprised if you’re nowhere near one.
Who launched it?
Both Verizon and AT&T have launched their mobile 5G networks, while KT argues that a robot in South Korea is its first 5G customer. Sprint turned on its system, with the LG V50 ThinQ 5G phone launching it. Also, UK carrier EE was the first in its country to turn on 5G.
It’s a virtual certainty, however, that you aren’t a 5G customer of any of these carriers. AT&T’s network is live in 19 cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, and New Orleans, but the customers are all small businesses, and the carrier has refused to talk about where the coverage is located.
Back in April, the first tests of Verizon’s 5G network were a mess, with erratic and inconsistent coverage and only some areas where you could experience 5G’s write speeds with the Motorola Z3 and its 5G Moto Mod.
Verizon, which launched a 5G home service last fall, turned on its network in Chicago and Minneapolis in early April but said the cities would have only pockets of 5G coverage.
A test of Sprint’s 5G network showed less impressive speeds (but still faster than 4G LTE), but better coverage.
Network Test Run
But a follow-up test in May with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, which had the 5G radio integrated into the phone, proved to be a much better experience, with speeds above 1 gigabit per second, or faster than Google Fiber.
This follows months of companies chipping in some last-minute hype, from Qualcomm talking during its Snapdragon Tech Summit in December about how the technology would evolve this year, to several prototype 5G phones shown off at MWC 2019. OnePlus in May unveiled a variant of its OnePlus 7 Pro that runs on UK carrier EE’s new 5G network. The Huawei Mate 20 X 5G also runs on EE.