Sizing Up the First Wave of US 5G Deployments

Matt Kapko | April 20, 2019

Sizing Up the First Wave of US 5G Deployments
The sprint to 5G in the United States is on, but only a fraction of the population has access to the technology and even fewer have devices that can use it. In that respect and for purposes of mass market adoption, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Marketers for the nation’s two largest network operators are doing their part — boasting bonafide firsts achieved by AT&T and Verizon at every turn, but the list of caveats for these early waves of 5G deployment is as long as a coupon-riddled receipt from a drug store. Coverage is spotty, service is limited, signals often drop within hundreds of feet of a base station of which there are relatively few, and devices — specifically 5G-capable smartphones that don’t require a special accessory — are nonexistent. The starting pistol for 5G was fired last fall when Verizon was first with a proprietary flavor of 5G that delivers fixed home broadband in limited areas of four markets. Earlier this month, it launched a standards-based mobile 5G network in select neighborhoods of Chicago and Minneapolis and plans to reach 30 cities by the end of the year. AT&T was first to launch a standards-based 5G New Radio (NR) network when it went live in a dozen markets with limited coverage in the final days of 2018. The carrier’s nascent 5G network has since expanded to 19 markets and it plans to have nationwide coverage by early 2020

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