Verizon becomes first in the world to activate 5G network

Verizon just turned on its 5G network in the US a week ahead of schedule

T-Mobile and Sprint are expected to launch limited 5G services in the next few months, but both carriers are pushing for a merger that would combine those networks down the line.

Verizon just flipped the switch on its 5G wireless network - and a week ahead of schedule, too. The 5G Ultra Wideband Network has gone live in two locations - "select areas" of Minneapolis and Chicago - Verizon said this morning.

In Minneapolis, meanwhile, 5G is focused in the Downtown area. While Chicago is a sizable city, and Minneapolis isn't small, the actual availability of 5G in each city is still limited. In Chicago, 5G coverage is available in West Loop and the South Loop, around landmarks like Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and The Chicago Theatre. In Minneapolis, 5G service is concentrated in the Downtown area as well as areas of Elliot Park and in the Verizon store in The Mall of America. Naturally, we want to know if those numbers are real, so we've been on the hunt for speedtests. CNET is in Chicago right now testing it with the Moto Z3.

For context, when we tested LTE speeds in Chicago previous year, Verizon averaged a download speed of 85.8 Mbps, so even 400 Mbps speeds would be a huge jump.

How Fast Is Verizon 5G?

The U.S. government also has taken notice, with lawmakers and the Trump administration looking to supercharge research, investment and development in the telecom sector, believing that better wireless networks will grant the country a more competitive business edge - particularly against China, which is racing to deploy 5G as well. Reception was spotty toward the back, and could even peter out near the front. For example, 4G LTE speeds enabled companies like Uber, Lyft, Shipt, and Postmates to be born.

The service Verizon is offering - 5G, the fifth generation of wireless data networks - could provide consumers Internet speeds that are up to 100 times faster than 4G networks, according to an industry trade association. The lack of a defined 5G map is also an issue, as any time we don't get 5G, we'll be left wondering whether it's because there's no signal in the area or if the phone is just fails to pick it up.

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