5G on the horizon: Here’s what it is and what’s coming

Enlarge / Artist’s impression of millimeter-wave 5G speeds. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty) The long-touted fifth generation of wireless communications is not magic. We’re sorry if unending hype over the world-changing possibilities of 5G has led you to expect otherwise. But the next generation in mobile broadband will still have to obey the current generation
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Enlarge / T-Mobile’s 5G coverage map. T-Mobile T-Mobile today announced that it has launched “America’s first nationwide 5G network,” but T-Mobile’s definition of “nationwide” doesn’t include about 40% of the US population. “America gets its first nationwide 5G network today, covering more than 200 million people and more than 1 million square miles,” T-Mobile’s announcement
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AT&T announced plans on Friday for a broader rollout of super-fast 5G mobile phone service for consumers, reaching parts of 15 cities within the next few months. AT&T was the fourth of the four major carriers to reveal its initial plans for 5G phone service, allowing customers to weigh the various options for getting connectivity
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Enlarge / An AT&T sign outside a company office in New York City. AT&T will soon offer 5G mobile service on its 850MHz spectrum, which will enable wider coverage than existing 5G networks but offer only 4G-like speeds at launch. Significant speed increases will arrive in 2020, AT&T says. The 5G networks already deployed by
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Enlarge / Verizon 5G in Boston’s Fenway/Kenmore area. Verizon has continually touted its rollout of 5G as it reaches more cities with the latest cellular technology, but new coverage maps confirm what consumers have experienced: Verizon’s 5G network is only sparsely deployed even in major cities. You can check out Verizon’s new coverage maps that
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Enlarge / A Verizon booth at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles in September 2018. Verizon on Friday announced that its 5G network is now available in three NBA arenas and is coming to seven more by the end of the 2019-2020 basketball season. But there’s a big caveat, just like there is with
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As the big wireless companies roll out super-fast 5G technology, they’re facing a significant crunch in airwave spectrum to cover the whole country. There’s a possible swath of airwaves that they’re eying to solve the problem, but other communications industry players don’t want to surrender the space easily. The years-long battle, which is now playing
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Enlarge / A Verizon ad for its 5G Home service. Verizon says it will bring its “5G Home” Internet service to every market where it deploys 5G mobile service. That might not be saying much, given how limited Verizon’s early 5G deployments are. But it would mean that at least some people in each 5G
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Enlarge / A Verizon logo at GSMA Mobile World Congress 2019 on February 26, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. Verizon yesterday announced that its 5G service is available in 13 NFL stadiums but said the network is only able to cover “parts” of the seating areas. Verizon 5G signals will also be sparse or non-existent when
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Aurich Lawson / Getty When the Department of Justice approved T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint, the DOJ’s antitrust officials insisted that an unusual remedy could replace the competition lost in the merger. Sprint will no longer exist as a separate entity if the DOJ’s plan is finalized, reducing the number of major nationwide mobile carriers from
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