Verizon on Wednesday flipped the switch to activate its 5G Ultra Wideband network in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis. The new network offers customers up to 1 Gbps data speeds. All of this likely won’t matter to iPhone users until at least 2020 or later.
The number one U.S. wireless provider announced the 5G rollout on its website, noting the switch for the new high-speed network was flipped one week earlier than scheduled. April 11 had been the official launch target date.
“Verizon customers will be the first in the world to have the power of 5G in their hands,” said Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s chairman and chief executive officer. “This is the latest in our string of 5G firsts. Verizon launched the first commercial broadband 5G service last October, Verizon 5G Home, and now we’re lighting up our 5G Ultra Wideband network in Chicago and Minneapolis, providing the world’s first commercial 5G mobile service with a 5G-enabled smartphone.”
Access to the new network is not only geographically limited, but also limited by hardware as well. Motorola’s Z3 smartphone with the separate 5G moto mod is the only device that is currently 5G ready on the Verizon network. Those users can expect typical speeds of 450 Mbps and latency less than 30 milliseconds, says Verizon.
Chicago 5G coverage is concentrated in areas of the West Loop and the South Loop, around landmarks like Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and The Chicago Theatre. Customers also have 5G Ultra Wideband service in the Verizon store on The Magnificent Mile and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North.
Minneapolis 5G service is concentrated in the Downtown area, including Downtown West and Downtown East, as well as inside and around U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of this weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service is also available around landmarks like the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Central Library, the Mill City Museum, Target Center and First Avenue venues, The Commons, areas of Elliot Park and in the Verizon store in The Mall of America.
The company plans to launch 5G service in 30 U.S. cities by the end of 2019.
The earliest Apple might debut a 5G-capable iPhone is 2020, using an Intel XMM 8160 modem. However, recent reports have indicated the rollout could be delayed, due to Intel’s missing of multiple development deadlines.