Verizon is to launch its 5G mobile broadband in two cities – Chicago and Minnieapolis – on April 11 before expanding to 30 US cities before the end of the year.
The operator became the first in the world to offer a 5G service of any description late last year, offering 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband in several cities.
The FWA network uses a different standard to the mobile broadband network, which is based on 3GPP standards, so smartphones are not compatible with the former. Verizon does claim, however, there will be seamless handover between its 4G and 5G infrastructure.
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The first tranche of 5G smartphones were announced last month, but none will be available at launch on Verizon. Instead, the only compatible device will be a Moto z3 with a 5G Moto Mod accessory, costing $50.
“5G Ultra Wideband network is built by the company with the nation’s best and most reliable 4G LTE network,” boasted Kyle Malady, Verizon CTO. “It will change the way we live, work, learn and play, starting in Chicago and Minneapolis and rapidly expanding to more than 30 U.S. markets this year.”
Rivals Sprint and AT&T also plan to launch 5G mobile broadband services later in 2019. AT&T was the second US operator to launch a commercial 5G service, however its network is limited to mobile hotspot services in parts of 12 cities in what seemed to be a last-ditch attempt to honour its pledge to go live in 2018.
It has also been widely mocked for issuing a software update to some Android smartphones so they displayed a ‘5G+’ icon when they were in fact accessing a 4G service. AT&T justified the claim by arguing its 4G upgrades were laying the foundation for 5G, but Sprint responded by issuing a lawsuit.
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