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Verizon reached a milestone by launching its mobile 5G network in Chicago and Minneapolis a week earlier than expected; originally, the firm stated its mobile 5G network would be available on April 11.
What makes Verizon’s launch even more historic is that its customers are the first in the US to have access to a mobile 5G network with a smartphone. Verizon customers in these two cities can now access the network with a Motorola Moto z3 smartphone equipped with a Verizon-exclusive 5G moto mod attachment.
Here’s what it means: Verizon has beaten its US rivals in launching a 5G wireless service that can be accessed via smartphone, positioning the firm to become a leader in the 5G era.
- Verizon beat competitors to the punch by offering customers the ability to use the 5G network right away with their smartphones. While other carriers have launched 5G networks, without 5G-compatible phones there’s no meaningful way for customers to access the network. Verizon’s use of a 5G moto mod attachment has enabled it to be the first US carrier with a commercially available mobile 5G network accessible with a smartphone; the company has sold tens of thousands of Motorola devices since the end of 2018. Additionally, Verizon has an exclusive agreement with Samsung that will give the carrier’s customers access to the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, reportedly in May, before it’s available to rivals’ users.
- Launching 5G early shows Verizon is on track to meet its 2019 rollout goal. The carrier plans on launching its mobile 5G network in 28 additional cities in 2019. The early launch of its network in its first two target markets is a good sign that Verizon’s technology is progressing as expected, if not better; the results of network tests were strong enough in recent days to move up the launch, according to Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg cited by The Wall Street Journal. If Verizon can continue its timely rollout of 5G it’ll beat out major rival AT&T, which only plans to be in at least 21 cities by the end of 2019.
The bigger picture: While the launch of a commercially usable live 5G network is a milestone, a small number of devices and restricted coverage areas are going to limit adoption for years.
Even if the Big Four US carriers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint — hit all of their goals by the end of 2019, 5G will still only be available in a select few markets. And, even if a customer lives in one of those select markets, they’ll need one of the few 5G-compatible phones that are expected to be available to access the network, which will come at a cost — consumers should “expect high prices, short battery life, heavy device weight, or outsize hardware,” according to Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.
For example, Samsung’s first 5G smartphone is expected to cost over $1,200, significantly more than the $258 average selling price (ASP) of an Android smartphone. This will result in slow adoption of 5G devices and, ultimately, 5G plans among consumers.
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SEE ALSO: 5G AND THE IoT: How the next generation of wireless technology will transform the IoT
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