5G internet service

5G is sweeping the nation thanks to providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. Are you ready for 5G? We break down what it is and where you can expect to find 5G.

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What is 5G internet?

Chances are you’ve heard about 5G, but what is it? And what does it mean to you?

5G is the “fifth-generation” of wireless internet technology, replacing its 4G, 3G and LTE predecessors with a much faster connection. After years in the making, providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are finally starting to roll it out in select locations across the U.S.

How does 5G work?

5G networks are made up of three bands. Depending on where you are (like in the middle of an office building vs. sitting outside having brunch), and what bandwidths are the most readily available, your mobile device will automatically connect to one of these 5G bands:

Low-band spectrum (<1GHz): Widespread coverage with speeds up to 100 Mbps and excellent penetration capabilities

Mid-band spectrum (<6GHz): Limited coverage with speeds up to 1 Gbps and moderate penetration capabilities

High-band spectrum (>6GHz): Low coverage with speeds up to 10 Gbps and poor penetration capabilities

How is 5G internet different from other connections?

5G connections will deliver faster speeds (the minimum downlink speed to qualify as 5G is 100 Mbps), drastically reduced latency (1-4 ms) and a higher data transfer rate than previous. For example, on a 5G network you could potentially download a two-hour movie in 3.6 seconds. That same download would take six minutes on a 4G network and 26 hours on 3G, according to the Consumer Technology Association.

Is 5G just for my phone?

5G is a wireless connection, so the vast majority of us will access the network via our mobile devices. However, tapping into 5G’s capabilities over a fixed wireless connection could make it a viable home internet option along with cable and fiber-optic services. Verizon has already introduced 5G fixed wireless home internet service in select locations. 

Will I need a new phone for 5G?

Yes, you will need a phone equipped for 5G in order to access your carrier’s 5G network. There’s no need to rush out and buy a brand new phone, though. 

5G is not completely “replacing” 4G networks, at least not anytime soon, so your current phone will continue to work just fine. If anything, your 4G LTE phone could work better as others switch to the 5G network, potentially freeing up bandwidth for your device.

There’s a lot to like about 5G, but there are potential downsides

You may already be considering your switch to 5G internet, but first, consider some of the benefits and drawbacks that are common with 5G connections:

What we like

  • Faster speeds – Like a lot faster. The 5G standard for peak downlink speed is 20 Gbps. You won’t get speeds that fast, but expect speeds of at least 100 Mbps
  • Low latency – 1-4 ms is incredibly low, and perfect for playing Google Stadia on your phone 
  • Increased connectivity for more devices – 5G will support up to one million connected devices per square kilometer

Things to consider

  • Limited penetration – The fastest 5G bands aren’t great at going through walls or other obstructions, so if you’re in the office or headed underground to board the subway, you’ll likely be on the low-band spectrum 
  • Increased cost – The average cost of a smartphone was $528 in 2019, and you can anticipate higher device and plan costs going forward
  • More towers – These 5G signals have to come from somewhere, which means more towers are likely to pop up on a street corner near you

One 5G “downside” you don’t need to worry about: health risks

As with the emergence of any new widespread technology in the age of social media, 5G has met its share of conspiracy theories. Aside from the absurd, like 5G causes coronavirus and will be used for mind control, there are some legitimate concerns over the health risks of electromagnetic radiation exposure.

After extensive research, the World Health Organization “concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields.” So the next time you see a headline on social media that insists 5G is going to cause brain cancer, we recommend brushing up on your skills to spot fake news.

5G mobile providers

Most major mobile providers are actively developing their 5G networks or are already offering service. Currently, 5G is primarily available in larger metro areas. Here are some major providers that you can look to for 5G in 2020. 

AT&T

AT&T 5G is already or is soon-to-be available in parts of nearly every state, currently excluding Hawaii, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Top AT&T 5G service areas: 

  • AZ – Phoenix
  • CA – Los Angeles, Menlo Park, Oakland, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, West Hollywood
  • FL – Jacksonville, Miami, Miami Gardens, Orlando
  • GA – Atlanta
  • IN – Indianapolis
  • KY – Louisville
  • LA – New Orleans
  • MD – Baltimore, Ocean City
  • MI – Detroit
  • NC – Charlotte, Raleigh
  • NV – Las Vegas
  • NY – New York City
  • OH – Cleveland
  • OK – Oklahoma City 
  • PA – King of Prussia, Philadelphia
  • TN – Nashville 
  • TX – Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Waco

Sprint and T-Mobile

T-Mobile (which now includes Sprint), boasts perhaps the most impressive 5G coverage of any provider so far. T-Mobile claims to be the only “nationwide” 5G provider, though much of their network consists of the low-band frequency. T-Mobile’s own low-band network is available to 200 million subscribers in 5,000 cities. 

Sprint’s 5G mid-band network is available free of charge in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix, as of 2018.

Verizon 

31 major cities including Los Angeles and Chicago can utilize Verizon’s high-band 5G network. The network is compatible with Moto Z2, Z3 and Z4 Force phones, Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G Verizon devices.

Top Verizon 5G service areas:

  • AR – Little Rock
  • AZ – Phoenix
  • CA – Los Angeles, San Diego
  • CO – Denver
  • FL – Miami, Panama City
  • GA – Atlanta
  • ID – Boise
  • IL – Chicago
  • IN – Indianapolis
  • IA – Des Moines
  • MA – Boston
  • MI – Detroit, Grand Rapids
  • MN – Minneapolis, St. Paul
  • MO – Kansas City
  • NE – Omaha
  • NJ – Hoboken
  • NY – New York City
  • NC – Charlotte, Greensboro
  • OH – Cincinnati, Cleveland
  • RI – Providence
  • SD – Sioux Falls
  • TN – Memphis
  • TX – Dallas, Houston
  • UT – Salt Lake City
  • VA – Hampton Roads
  • WA – Spokane

Is 5G home internet available in my area?

5G internet availability is limited as many providers are working to expand their services and coverage. However, major cities are getting a first look at these developing networks before anyone else. Learn more about what to expect from 5G mobile in 2020.

Call for details: (844) 451-2720 (844) 451-2720

5G frequently asked questions

Does 5G replace home internet?

As long as smart home devices are the norm and mobile data limits a standard of most plans, there will most likely be a steady need for home internet for the foreseeable future. However, as devices and technologies improve, only time will tell where home internet will stand in a 5G world.

The speed of your 5G internet will depend on what you’re operating on, but typically 5G speeds max out at 10 Gbps, or 10,000 Mbps.

5G stands for “fifth-generation.”

Providers are actively working to make sure they have the best 5G technology around. Currently, Verizon boasts the largest high-bandwidth 5G coverage area with 35 major cities as of July 10, 2020.


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Taylor Gadsden

Written by:

Taylor Gadsden

Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Taylor is a veteran member of the Allconnect content team and has spearheaded a number of projects, including a data piece on the top fiber cities in the U.S. and a troubleshooting guide … Read more