5G is coming to your town. Starting this spring, first Verizon and then AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile began rolling out 5G networks, dotting the US — from Minneapolis to Dallas and New York to Los Angeles — with 5G speeds and faster wireless connections.
Depending on where you live, you may not see a 5G network for a while, especially if you’re more rural than urban. And even when 5G does come to your area, coverage zones may be small and the reception may be iffy. But when the time comes, you’ll need to know which carrier gives you the most for your money.
5G is the much-anticipated fifth-generation wireless networking technology that has the potential to bring fiber-like speeds over the air to phones, cars, homes and factories. And while 5G promises speeds that will let you download a full-length movie to your phone in seconds, it’s not just about the rocket-fast connections. The wireless standard is designed to significantly reduce network latency (or lag time), letting you play a real-time combat game against other players on your phone, for example, or helping self-driving cars monitor each other on the road.
To create their 5G networks, the four major US carriers are using a combination of available spectrum bands, and their mix of bands defines the coverage. On one side is “sub-6,” which is extremely efficient and reliable at providing connections over long distances, indoors and out. Sub-6 currently runs over 2.5GHz to 6GHz spectrum bands.
Over on the other side, 5G can also refer to “millimeter wave,” or “mmWave”, which offers much higher capacity over much shorter distances (that is, ultra-fast speeds over 1Gbps). Reception can be finicky, with walls, glass and even a hand able to block the mmWave signal. mmWave uses spectrum bands above 24GHz.
Unless you’re keen to be an early adopter of 5G, you have little reason to switch over today. The current 5G phones are expensive and tax the device’s battery, you’ll most likely pay a premium to hop on a carrier’s 5G network, and unless you’re near a 5G node, you may spend more time on 4G than on 5G, at least at first.
But 5G is an inevitability, the same way that 4G replaced 3G before it. Eventually, it will come to us all. Whether you decide to pick a 5G network now or wait to see how 5G rolls out in your area, here’s what to consider when you look at a 5G mobile carrier.
Cost: 5G phones and plans aren’t cheap
These are the early days of 5G, and the major carriers are starting to unveil their plans and phones. Over the next year, we’ll see more 5G phones, and the carriers will adjust their plans. But right now, here’s what we have. (You can see how Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile’s 5G plans stack up in the chart below.)
, with most devices well above above $1,000. The , is $1,300. You can also buy the for $1,222. But you can find deals, like the Motorola Moto Z4 phone and required accessory currently priced at $440, but those are more of the exception. Outside of the US, options include the and .
If the price of a 5G phone seems steep, you can pay month by month instead of buying the phone up front. But the downside, as with any phone, is you may still be paying for a Read More>>that in two years could feel out of date…….