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Verizon’s faster C-band 5G is live and off to a promising start

In the midst of an ongoing battle with the FAA and the aviation industry, Verizon today switched the switch on its mid-range 5G implementation, which uses spectrum that the company spent tens of billions of dollars on acquiring in the C-band auction. The new, faster level of 5G connectivity will significantly increase Verizon's "5G Ultra Wideband" network, which until now has relied solely on extremely fast, but very difficult to find millimeter wave spectrum.

Mid-band 5G overcomes many of the obstacles that have made mmW the majority of jokes from competitors like T-Mobile: it is actually available indoors and the coverage does not vary so unpredictably from one street to the next. Compatible phone customers should experience significantly faster data speeds compared to Verizon's "5G Nationwide" network, which offers widespread signaling, but with download and upload performance that in many cases is not much better than LTE.

In short, 5G is feeling a lot more genuine for Verizon customers than it has ever been before. The middleband is a crucial element in Verizon's long-term 5G ambitions and bridges the gap between the slow 5G Nationwide and barely existing, ultra-fast millimeter wave 5G.

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In many cases, C-band speeds are a significant upgrade from Verizon's slower "5G Nationwide" and a true leap over 4G LTE.
Image: r / Verizon

Even on day one, the improvements are promising. Customers were quick to head to the Verizon subreddit on Wednesday to post a host of Ookla Speedtest screenshots, with download speeds regularly topping 500Mbps and even 800Mbps in some cases. Many people see an average downlink between 200 and 400 Mbps, which far exceeds the performance of 5G Nationwide.

Which devices support Verizon's new, faster C-band 5G?

At launch, the list of supported phones and tablets is quite short. These are the devices that can already connect to Verizon's C-band 5G:

  • Apple iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation) or iPad mini (6th generation)
  • Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, S21 Ultra, Z Fold 3, Z Flip 3

Verizon has said that all phones it releases from now on will support C-band 5G, and the operator expects to offer over 20 compatible phones by the end of 2022.

Where can I get Verizon's C-band 5G?

Verizon has said it will provide a C-band coverage card at launch, but so far such a card is not available on the airline's website - perhaps a consequence of eleven-hour concessions to the FAA. You can expect almost all major metro markets to have some degree of C-band coverage in January: the company has promised to reach "more than 100 million people in more than 1,700 cities around the country" with the faster taste of 5G this month.

But it is a rolling process and will not be instantly available everywhere. I'm located in downtown Brooklyn and still running on the slower 5G nationwide network from Wednesday noon.

How do I know if I'm on Verizon's C-band 5G?

Verizon's C-band 5G shares the same "5G Ultra Wideband" indicator in your phone's status bar as the 5G millimeter wave. It does make things a little confusing, but if you suddenly (and consistently) see "5G UW" popping up in places you've never had it before, it's the best proof that your device's benefiting from the faster 5G.

How fast is it really?

Based on many early tests, fairly fast - and at a completely different level than 5G Nationwide. Upload speeds are nothing spectacular, but many Verizon C-band customers get download speeds ranging from 200 to 500 Mbps and in the very best cases over 800 Mbps. And these are in areas where mobile data previously often topped around 60 or 80 Mbps, so the upgrade is significant.

Do I need to change my plan to get C-band 5G on Verizon?

Not necessarily. The new, faster 5G is included in Verizon's 5G Play More, 5G Do More and 5G Get More Unlimited plans. Prior to the rollout of the C-band, Verizon transformed a bit and customized these plans - with the top plan now offering truly unlimited 5G data. However, if you have an earlier version of these plans, and since the actual plan features have changed, you will in most cases be automatically rolled over to the new plans within two billing cycles.

The exception to this is Verizon's launch level Start Unlimited plan, which does not include 5G Ultra Wideband at all.

What about all flight safety?

Do not expect to get C-band speeds at your local airport for some time. Verizon and AT&T have reluctantly agreed to delay the activation of C-band 5G around many airports and create exclusion zones to address flight-related safety concerns that the FAA continues to raise.

Both airlines have strongly criticized the FAA for being unprepared at the moment. "The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our nation's airlines have not been able to fully address 5G navigation around airports, despite being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries," Verizon said in a statement. declaration.

If you're a Verizon customer and already use the faster mid-band 5G, feel free to share some of your impressions in the comments.

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