The wait for 5G is over, as Verizon announced on Wednesday that it has turned on its 5G Ultra Wideband network in select areas of Minneapolis and Chicago a week ahead of schedule. As we reported last month, the initial plan was to launch 5G in those two markets on April 11th, but the service is live for subscribers right now.
There is one major caveat that comes along with this news: Only one 5G-capable phone is currently being sold by Verizon. In order to take advantage of the upgraded network, not only will you need to be in one of the areas listed in Verizon’s press release, but you’ll also need to own a Motorola Moto Z3 and the 5G Moto Mod. No other phone sold by the carrier will be able to reach the speeds Verizon promises, leaving very few potential 5G users.
Still, the timing of the launch allows Verizon to accurately claim that their customers will be the first with access to 5G (even if the number of people using 5G at this very moment has to be incredibly small). Verizon says that those select few will be able to expect “typical download speeds” of 450 Mbps, though they could peak at around 1 Gbps. The carrier expects those speeds to improve on a regular basis as the network is upgraded.
“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.”
Verizon postpaid customers on any unlimited plan (Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, or Above Unlimited) can add 5G data for an additional $10 per month, but the first three months of 5G data will be free.