Verizon finally reveals actual 5G coverage maps
Early adopters, here are the maps you’ve been waiting for
By Chris Welch on November 19, 2019 6:08 pm
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge
Verizon is addressing one of the biggest criticisms about the company’s growing 5G network: a lack of traditional coverage maps. As noted by PC Mag, today the carrier has finally published maps where customers in 5G cities can get lightning-quick data speeds (over 1Gbps in some cases) from its millimeter-wave technology. Earlier today, Verizon launched 5G in Boston, Houston, and Sioux Falls. Service is now available in 18 cities, and the company says it will reach 30 by the end of 2019.
Verizon continues to claim that it’s putting 5G “in locations where more people can experience ultra-fast speeds together” — near landmarks and high-traffic areas of each market. Recently, it brought 5G to sections of football stadiums.
Here’s what the company’s map for midtown Manhattan looks like:
That’s not bad. It’s respectable when you factor in the range limits of millimeter wave. But notice that 5G coverage is largely restricted to streets and sidewalks. The signal simply doesn’t carry well indoors or through windows. Using Verizon’s 5G inside a Starbucks is still impractical. And service varies dramatically elsewhere. Take downtown Brooklyn, for example.
That is... far less good.
Still, Verizon’s maps reveal that coverage continues to expand in cities The Verge has already visited like Chicago.
Most important of all is that early 5G adopters on Verizon finally have a solid reference for where they should be able to obtain a 5G ultra wideband signal. In our previous tests, the carrier would point us to certain street corners or tourist spots. Availability in most cities is still limited, and Verizon’s network is far from a place where 5G customers have true mobility at this stage.
Its competitors, most notably T-Mobile, have relentlessly mocked Verizon as having an incomplete 5G strategy that relies far too heavily on millimeter wave, which cannot blanket entire regions and penetrate buildings like LTE can today. Other carriers are using a combination of millimeter wave, midband, and low-band spectrum to achieve a more robust 5G presence — though speeds drop off when millimeter wave can’t reach customers.