5G is the next generation of cellular technology. It’s been a hot topic among the tech community for years; now, it’s finally here. Well, sort of. 5G is going to provide the infrastructure to change the way we live, work, socialize, and much more.
It not only supports faster cellular connections but allows you to connect more devices to the internet with fewer delays. 5G is now available in select parts of the country. But 5G enabled phones and other accessories aren’t everywhere yet.
Answering the question “When will 5G be available” is a little trick for this reason because it varies by carrier, region, and even the type of 5G signal. With that said, progress is being made daily so you most people can expect 5G anytime now.
5G By Carrier Availability Timeline:
Each carrier is at a different state of 5G rollout progress. You should check with them directly to see where they are currently at:
- AT&T: Mobile 5G Available in major cities across the U.S. Nationwide coverage by mid-2020.
- Sprint: Mobile 5G available in major cities across the U.S.
- T-Mobile: Nationwide 5G available to 200 million Americans in over 5,00 cities and towns.
- Verizon: Fixed and mobile 5G is live in several areas around the country.
If a smaller carrier uses a nationwide network carrier as an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), you can generally expect 5G coverage to arrive around the same time as their major carrier partner.
- Charter Spectrum: Early 2020 5G Rollout
- Comcast: 5G will roll out the same time as Verizon
- C Spire: Fixed 5G Available already in Mississippi
- Simple Mobile: Nationwide 5G powered by the T-Mobile Network
- U.S. Cellular: 5G Services by 2020
The Different Types of 5G
5G refers to a collection of different cellular technologies. The most important thing for you to know is low vs. high-band 5G. Low-band 5G is slower (only about 20% faster than 4G LTE on average) but can travel far distances. This makes it suited for covering large rural areas.
High-band 5G (also known as mm Wave or millimeter band) is the super-fast 5G you’ve heard about that averages between 1-2 GBps and eventually can reach speed up 100 Gbps per second. However, it can only travel short distances and requires mini-towers. You can expect these speeds in urban environments.
Different carriers have different approaches to 5G. AT&T and T-Mobile have focused on low-band 5G while Verizon has focused on high-band. At the moment, the types of coverage and speeds will vary until all the providers have full 5G networks in place.
AT&T 5G Service
AT&T operates both forms of 5G. In 35 cities around the country, it operates a mm Wave spectrum (superfast) called 5G+. Along with this, it has a growing low-band 5G network in an increasing number of cities and towns around the country.
Sprint 5G Service
Sprint currently has mobile 5G in nine cities around the country, including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, LA, and New York. Alongside this, Sprint has also deployed its LTE Advanced network, which delivers gigabit speeds to compatible devices. This technology is also upgradeable to 5G quickly via a software update.
The Sprint merger with T-Mobile will also have a major impact on the rollout, which will go into more detail below.
T-Mobile 5G Service
T-Mobile launched its nationwide 5G network in December 2019. Their prepaid service Metro, as well as Simple Mobile, also have access to the 5G Network.
The backbone of T-Mobile 5G Network are 600 MHz spectrum towers, which can blast 5G signals over one thousand square miles. So far, the network has average speeds of 450 Mbps and which will grow to max speeds around 4 Gbps in the next few years.
Part of the T-Mobile-Sprint Merger is the company must be able to deliver a network that can provide 5G service to the country by 2023. Along with this, they are also looking into in-home 5G Services.
T-Mobile has also invested in mm Band tech and, along with the merger, will help give it a strong position against rival carriers.
When Will 5G Be Available Near Me?
At the moment, you need to have a mixture of having the right carrier with the right device in the right location. Essentially, if you don’t live in certain areas and have a $1000+ phone, 5G isn’t an option.
However, more affordable 5G compatible smartphones are about to hit the market. Likewise, all the major carriers should have nationwide service by the end of the year.
Right now, the outlook is that most people should be able to access 5G by mid to late 2020. By 2021, there should be an even more extensive range of affordable 5G devices.
5G is More than Smartphones
Most people think of the G’s (i.e., 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G) with cell phones. That’s because they’ve always been the place where we can easily see the connectivity we’re getting. But 5G is so much more than 4K streaming and superfast downloads.
Tech experts predict 5G to launch the post-smartphone era. Phones are just the first place we can see the launch. New technologies will make A.R. and V.R. more useful, cheaper, and natural, and many companies are betting things like V.R. glasses will replace smartphones.
Along with this, we can expect Internet-of-Things products, self-driving vehicles, connected P.C.s, and more. Not all of this will happen in 2020 but will change throughout the first half of the decade.
What Happens to 4G?
4G and 5G will coexist happily for years, especially in the beginning. Anytime your device drops the 5G signal, it will revert to LTE. Just as your phone may have reverted to 3G in the past.
The carriers are also going to continue making improvements to LTE as well. LTE advanced networks offer gigabit-class speeds that rival 5G in some areas. Over time, however, 5G speeds will greatly outpace anything 4G can offer.
Eventually as 5G reaches 100% availability, 4G LTE spectrum will likely be sold off to develop the next generation cellular technologies as has happened in the past with 2G and 3G.
5G Near You: Already Here and Coming Soon
5G is already here. For most people, the biggest obstacle to accessing right now isn’t a lack of 5G availability, but not having a 5G-compatible device. However, that’s all set to change over the next few months. That’s why 2020 is already considered the year of scale for 5G.
Keep an eye on the big Samsung, Apple, and other releases as it’s soon going to be easier than ever to get a taste of 5G for yourself.
Visit the Buyback Boss Blog for more on tech news, smartphones, and everything else you want to know about 5G. We recently did a series of carrier showdowns to help you understand the differences between the cell phone providers in the U.S. Get started now with this breakdown of the differences between Consumer Cellular and Verizon!