LOS ANGELES (CNET) — 5G is about to cross the threshold between hype and reality. It’s about time.
Verizon on Tuesday said installation for its 5G home broadband service, Verizon 5G Home, will start Oct. 1, with service to begin once the installation is complete. Customers in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California, can start ordering the service, which costs $50 for Verizon Wireless customers and $70 for those who aren’t.
Not everyone in those cities will be able to get access to the service, which unlike 4G, is for now restricted to home internet service. To find out if you’re eligible and to sign up, go to Firston5G.com and type in your address. (The site goes live at 5 a.m. PT/8 a.m. ET on Thursday.) Consumers elsewhere can sign up for updates on Verizon’s future rollout plans.
The launch marks a key milestone in 5G development and gives Verizon the bragging rights as the first carrier in the world to get to the next-generation wireless technology. Sort of. The company was able to move so quickly because its early 5G launch uses non-industry standard technology, so critics will point out that this technically isn’t 5G despite its ability to deliver high speeds. The company plans to expand to new markets once it switches to industry-standard 5G equipment. Early customers will get free upgrades to ensure they move up to the industry standard as well. (Read about all the nuances of 5G here.)
As a result, this generation’s wireless race is a bit more complicated, and Verizon’s leadership has an asterisk. While Verizon is first to 5G as a home broadband replacement service, it’s both limited to a few cities and only to a fixed home service. AT&T still plans to be the first to offer 5G as a true mobile service by the end of the year, though it’s unclear how widespread that deployment will be. T-Mobile promises to have broader commercial service available early next year, and Sprint and LG are promising the first 5G smartphone. Again, it’s unclear what their coverage will look like at launch.
Verizon was the first in the US to widely roll out a 4G LTE network, which helped cement its reputation for network quality in the subsequent years. 5G promises to significantly increase the speed over 4G and is seen as a foundational technology for other areas like self-driving cars and streaming virtual and augmented reality.
Verizon is promising home broadband speeds ranging from 300 megabits per second to 1 gigabit per second, or fast enough to download a Blu-ray movie in minutes. The carriers are aiming for peak speeds on the mobile side to far exceed that 1Gbps mark.
Verizon is rolling out the red carpet for early takers. Its “First on 5G” customers will get free installation, as well as three months of free service. Customers will also get a free Chromecast or Apple TV 4K, as well as three months of YouTube TV for free. They’ll also get priority in purchasing the first 5G mobile device. You don’t need to be in the launch markets to be a “First on 5G” member.
“We will deliver a revolutionary 5G experience that will change how people live, work and play,” Verizon Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady said in a statement.
Verizon offered few details on the installation process, with the company noting there’ll be both internal and external equipment depending on the construction of your home and direction of the cell tower.
The company has spent the last few years testing 5G service, though it has often missed its own deadlines. (It initially wanted to commercially deploy 5G in 2017.)
— Roger Cheng, CNET