Earlier this morning, we reported that South Korea’s SK Telecom became the first network in the world to bring commercial 5G wireless service to customers. Sure, AT&T “technically” launched its 5G mobile network back in late 2018, but access to the network is extremely limited and only made possible with Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspots.
Verizon Wireless just couldn’t let SK Telecom have all the 5G bragging rights, so it today activated its mobile 5G Ultra Wideband wireless service in “select areas” of Minneapolis and Chicago. Make no mistake, this service will be extremely limited in availability, and today’s launch is coming more than a week ahead of its originally planned April 11th rollout (for obvious reasons).
In Chicago, the following locations will be 5G-enabled: West Loop, South Loop, Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, The Chicago Theatre, The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North. In Minneapolis, service will be active in Downtown West, Downtown East, and around U.S. Bank Stadium.
Despite the fact that Verizon’s 5G rollout leaves a lot to be desired, it is still touting the world’s first commercially available 5G smartphone: the Motorola Moto Z3 with the 5G Moto Mod accessory. Although Verizon’s preorder pricing for the 5G Moto Mod was at a spectacularly low $50, you’ll now have to pay $199.99 for that privilege ($349 MSRP). You will still have to add the cost of a Moto Z3 – the only compatible phone for the 5G Moto Mod – for $240. Verizon says that the Moto Z3 and the 5G Moto Mod are available today for in-store pickup, or you can choose next-day or two-day shipping options to have it on your doorstep before the end of the week.
It should be noted that to access 5G service, you will first need to have a Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited or Above Unlimited plan. Then, you’ll have to tack on another $10/month for those glorious 5G speeds (albeit without data caps).
“Verizon customers will be the first in the world to have the power of 5G in their hands," said Hans Vestberg, Verizon Chairman and CEO. “This is the latest in our string of 5G firsts. Verizon launched the first commercial broadband 5G service last October, Verizon 5G Home, and now we’re lighting up our 5G Ultra Wideband network in Chicago and Minneapolis, providing the world’s first commercial 5G mobile service with a 5G-enabled smartphone.”
While SK Telecom may have been the first with a commercial 5G wireless network, the first smartphone to the access the network – the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G – won’t go on sale until Friday, April 5th.