Verizon has made a huge bet on consumer 5G, and they are very proud of their progress. To some, the coverage maps will tell a familiar story. Coverage starts in small areas and grows over time. Look closer. The coverage is almost exclusively outdoors. Even if you live in a coverage area, there is a very good chance you will not be able to get 5G while you’re inside. Why?
Verizon’s 5G uses millimeter wave technology, which limits coverage to an approximate line-of-sight radius of 600-800 feet from the tower, and the waves don’t reliably penetrate buildings. There is all kinds of technology in the works to improve this, but for now this is the state-of-the-art. When coupled with the fact that Verizon has yet to properly align their cell towers to optimize for 5G, the coverage story is truly a “work in progress.”
If you happen to be outdoors, in a 5G coverage area, and have a 5G device, you will experience insane broadband speed. One of our interns (who attends CCNY) did a speed test at 135th and Amsterdam yesterday, and logged an average of 987Mbps with a speedtest app. That is science-fiction-like for a handheld device standing on the street corner.
However — and this is a huge however — that was the sum total of what can be done with a 5G handset in November 2019. Calls are not faster. Video is not faster. (I should insert a smiley face here; what does a faster call or a faster video even look like?) Apps do not run faster (although they download almost instantly)… but how often do you download apps while standing on the street?
What are the valid uses for consumer 5G? First-person shooters (which gamers will love). Augmented reality (which does not yet exist, but will soon, partly because 5G will enable it). New technologies that have yet to be invented (but might not run on handsets).
I’m excited about Verizon’s commitment to 5G, but I’m not sure why anyone else will be. Verizon is playing the long game. We will need 5G coverage everywhere. Then we will need 6G, then 7G, then 8G, then …nG. The velocity of data is increasing and will always increase. Someone MUST build the networks to handle it. Thanks, Hans. It’s a thankless job, but someone’s gotta do it!
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Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.