Verizon lit up parts of its mobile 5G network in select areas of Minneapolis and Chicago Wednesday, ahead of its planned April 11 launch date.
Currently the only smartphone device capable of accessing the 5G millimeter wave network is Motorola’s moto z3, which requires the clip-on 5G moto mod to enable 5G connectivity. Verizon previously said it will start offering 5G smartphones later this year, including the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G during the first half of 2019.
Initially, service in the two launch cities will be centered in the West and South Loop in Chicago and concentrated in the Downtown West and East areas of Minneapolis. The carrier plans to launch 5G service in more than 30 cities in the U.S. this year.
Verizon said its 5G service will deliver peak download speeds of almost 1 Gbps, though early customers should expect to see average down speeds of 450 Mbps, and latency below 30 milliseconds. Regular software updates are expected to be pushed to 5G capable devices throughout the year as Verizon engineers continue to upgrade the network to improve speed, latency and overall performance.
Customers can get unlimited 5G data as a $10 per month add-on to any Verizon unlimited plans, with the first three months free.
Verizon’s announcement came as South Korean mobile operators raced to turn on 5G mobile networks in hopes of claiming a major 5G ‘first’. However, South Korean 5G services were only available to select ‘brand promotors,’ with service sign ups expanding to regular customers on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Verizon initially launched fixed wireless 5G home broadband service in four cities in October 2018, built on the carrier’s 5G TF network standard.
Competitor AT&T turned on standards-based mobile 5G service in parts of 12 cities in late December, with the service only available to select customers and businesses connecting through a Netgear 5G mobile hotspot.