Does 5G exist?
5G is set to revolutionize the technology industry and how we use our phones. This wireless technology will deliver faster speeds than ever before with an ultra-low latency, giving us the ability to do and connect to more than ever before. Compared to the current 4G network you know and use, you can expect an average 5G user speed of 1 Gbps, while 5G speeds can top out at 20 Gbps (4G tops out at 1 Gbps) and a latency of just one millisecond, faster than 4G at 10 milliseconds. The hype behind 5G is real but a lot of people are asking, does 5G actually exist? In short, yes it does, but let’s dive a bit deeper.
Let’s backup to review just how 5G works. 5G will be composed on the low, medium, and high band spectrum, and there are only frequencies in which 5G networks can produce the high speeds we are expecting, the Sub-6GHz and millimeter wave technology (mmWave) which has frequencies between 30-300GHz. The Sub-6 operates on the mid-band spectrum while the mmWave operates on the high-band spectrum.
Currently, most carriers are using the Sub-6 spectrum for their 4G LTE networks but will require more bandwidth to deliver the promised 5G speeds and latency. Carriers like AT&T and Verizon will be leading the charge using mmWave technology to deliver their promised 5G speeds. However, the biggest issue with mmWave technology is that while their frequencies can pack a punch, they lack the ability to travel far distances and penetrate through walls and structures. All carriers are expected to utilize a multi-band strategy to implement their 5G networks, which would include a mix of low, mid and high-band spectrum.
Carriers will have a hard time implementing mmWave in rural areas because the signal cannot travel far, thus carriers would need to build out tons of small sites to carry the signal, and that’s just not feasible for rural or even suburban areas. Which is why you’ll see carriers utilizing low and mid-band spectrum frequencies to cover larger areas with 5G.
In December 2019, T-Mobile became the first carrier to launch nationwide 5G coverage using the sub-600Mz spectrum. For customers, this means wider coverage and the ability for 5G penetration through buildings and walls. This is huge because it will mean you can get 5G coverage, even indoors. The move also boosted network performance and gave those in underserved areas with less-than-stellar coverage a major lift.
With 5G starting to roll out across the U.S., some people may have coverage in their area, while most of us may not. However, for those who are lucky enough to have 5G coverage, a 5G capable phone is needed to connect and use the new, better-than-ever network. Not to worry if you don’t have a 5G phone, you’ll still likely see a better performance of your existing 4G LTE network.
Each carrier is working to build out their 5G networks, but it’s a tedious new technology that will require a massive infrastructure overhaul and a lot of work to get rolling. If you’re wondering about availability in your area, below is a list of cities where 5G is available, based on the carrier:
- Alabama: Birmingham, Huntsville
- Arizona: Gila
- California: Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Madera County, Modesto, Mono County, Obispo, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Vallejo
- Colorado: Denver
- Connecticut: Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven
- Delaware: Kent County, Wilmington
- Georgia: Albany, Athens, Chattooga County, Hancock County, Liberty, Macon, Whitfield County, Worth
- Illinois: Washington County
- Indiana: Brown County, Indianapolis
- Kansas: Topeka, Wichita
- Kentucky: Lexington-Fayette, Louisville
- Massachusetts: Boston, New Bedford, Worcester
- Maryland: Baltimore, Frederick
- Michigan: Detroit, Kalamazoo, Newaygo
- Missouri: Kansas City, Springfield, St. Louis
- Montana: Beaverhead County, Lincoln County
- New Jersey: Atlantic City, Hunterdon County, Long Branch, New Brunswick, Ocean County, Sussex County, Trenton
- New Mexico: Las Cruces
- Nevada: Las Vegas, Reno, Storey County
- New York: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, New York, Orange County, Otsego County, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica-Rome
- Ohio: Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Hamilton, Hancock County, Ross County, Sandusky County, Springfield, Tuscarawas County
- Oregon: Portland, Salem
- Pennsylvania: Allentown, Harrisburg, Lancaster, North East, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, State College, York
- Rhode Island: Providence
- Utah: Provo
- Virginia: Madison County
- Wisconsin: Milwaukee
- Washington: Spokane
- West Virginia: Raleigh County
For a full coverage map of AT&T’s 5G network, click here.
- Arkansas: Little Rock
- Arizona: Phoenix
- California: Los Angeles
- Colorado: Denver
- Florida: Miami, Panama City
- Georgia: Atlanta
- Iowa: Des Moines
- Idaho: Boise
- Illinois: Chicago, Indianapolis
- Indiana: Sioux Falls
- Michigan: Detroit, Grand Rapids
- Minnesota: Minneapolis, St. Paul
- Missouri: Kansas City
- North Carolina: Charlotte, Greensboro
- Nebraska: Omaha
- New Jersey: Hoboken
- New York: New York City
- Ohio: Cincinnati, Cleveland
- Rhode Island: Providence
- Tennessee: Memphis
- Texas: Dallas, Houston
- Utah: Salt Lake City
- Virginia: Hampton Roads
- Washington: Spokane
- Washington D.C.
For a full coverage map of Verizon’s 5G network, click here.
For a more detailed view of coverage in your area, visit T-Mobile’s website.
DISH Network is the newest name in wireless technology to enter the game after the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint became final in April 2020. The newbie carrier has made no announcements yet regarding their standalone 5G network but you can find updates as they come out here.
DISH Network did purchase Sprint’s prepaid business in July of 2020 for $1.4 billion.
Keep in mind, carriers are still developing the network and are always adding new markets, so if you don’t see your area listed, know it could be the next one to launch!
If you have 5G in your area, then you may be wondering what 5G devices are currently available and which carrier has a phone that suits your needs. There are currently a few phones on the market today that you can get that already have the 5G hardware installed, but be mindful, only specific carriers carry a specific phone. For a full list of 5G phones available, click here.
So in a nutshell, 5G does certainly exist and it’s going to become a more prevalent part of your day-to-day life as each carrier starts major 5G roll outs in 2020. There’s no specific dates of when to expect 5G coverage in your city, but you can keep yourself up-to-date on your carrier’s website. In addition, your favorite cell phone manufacturer is working diligently to stay on-top of the latest in 5G technology so you can expect to see more 5G capable phones emerge onto the market as 5G becomes the new standard. With faster speeds and a super-low latency, you’ll want to make sure you’re 5G ready when it hits your area because you don’t want to be left out of this exciting new phase in wireless technology.