Commercial real estate owners get ready, 5G is here. Verizon has turned on the 5G switch in Chicago and Minnesota, yesterday catching many by surprise.
5G coverage will now be available primarily in the downtown areas in both Chicago and Minneapolis including the U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of this weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four.
“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 in a statement.
Customers with 5G equipped phones will now have access to wireless service with speeds of up to 1 Gps 10 times the peak speed of 4G enabling smartphone users to download movies in seconds instead of minutes.
In Chicago, 5G coverage will be available in the downtown areas of West Loop and the South Loop and around landmarks like Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and The Chicago Theatre. 5G Ultra Wideband service will also be available at the Verizon store on The Magnificent Mile and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North.
Service in Minneapolis will be concentrated in Downtown West and Downtown East and around 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.
Vestberg told CNBC the company plans to activate 5G in 30 additional markets this year once it feels it can give customers a “real” 5G experience.
Verizon’s launch comes amid an ongoing carrier feud with AT&T, which launched a service it calls “5G E” that is not actually connected to a 5G network.
Vestberg added that the move to 5G is not a small evolution but a quantum leap and expects to see new applications and the handset market follow.
“On the handset side you will see many more coming out this year including and Samsung later this quarter and others coming in the second half of this year,” Vestberg told CNBC in an interview.
Despite the new 5G handsets, Vestberg said it is going to take time to see new 5G smartphones penetrate the market and the company does not expect to see a significant revenue impact until 2021.
Currently, the number of people who can actually take advantage of the service is limited. The only smartphone on the market which supports 5G is the Motorola moto z3, but Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G model, exclusive to Verizon customers will be available next quarter.
The moto z3 which costs around $240 requires a snappable but expensive accessory called “moto mod” to work on the network. Users will need to snap the 5G moto mod to the back of a compatible Motorola z3 smartphone to use the 5G network.
To buy a 5G moto mod, customers must either have an active moto z3 on their account or purchase a moto z3 at the same time as the 5G moto mod. Customers can also get a moto z3 for $10 a month for 24 months on Verizon’s device payment plan if they add a new line or upgrade online.
Verizon postpaid customers with any Verizon unlimited plan, including Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited or Above Unlimited plan can get unlimited 5G data for an additional $10 per month.
Carriers T-Mobile and Sprint which are in the midst of a merger are also expected to release their 5G networks later this year.