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Verizon’s 5G network launched in downtown Chicago and Minneapolis in early April, and it’s stayed in Chicago and Minneapolis. Coverage in Chicago has expanded slightly, but most of Verizon’s energy is focused on faster speeds and better beam-forming, not new city launches.
That may change. At the Motorola Z4 launch event, Verizon executive director of product marketing Chris Emmons said Verizon will “hopefully [bring 5G] to New York in the very near future,” the most precise thing the carrier has said about a launch date for any of its upcoming cities. Until now, all the cities Verizon would name were coming “by the end of 2019.”
Verizon may be pushing up its promised calendar because competition is finally heating up. Sprint is starting to sell 5G phones at retail in its first four 5G cities (Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Kansas City) on Friday, and it promises to launch 5G in New York in June. Earlier this week, Ookla Technical Evangelist Milan Milanovic tracked down T-Mobile’s 5G in New York, saying that it “blanketed” parts of midtown Manhattan.
Along with being the nation’s largest city, New York tends to be a critical market because the media and financial industries are concentrated there, meaning product launches in New York attract a lot of scrutiny, press coverage, and related stock-market analysis. New York is also the closest major city to Verizon’s headquarters in Basking Ridge, NJ.
As such, Verizon’s 5G launch in Chicago and Minneapolis has received limited press coverage simply because most of the tech press aren’t in those cities. AT&T has been offering access by invitation in only 19 cities. I’ve tested both of their launches, and they’ve been improving over time: most recently I saw 1.18Gbps speeds in Chicago on Verizon, nearly double what I saw a month earlier.
I’m anticipating that AT&T will make its 5G network truly public in mid-June, in at least some of its 19 cities. That would put AT&T and Sprint head-to-head in Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta, for example. If Emmons is right, it looks like this summer we’ll have true 5G competition in major cities around the US.
This article originally published at PCMag