When Is 5G Coming to the US? (Updated for 2019)

5G isn't yet widely available, but it's coming!

The United States at night
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

5G provides an infrastructure that will change the way you live, supporting faster mobile connections so that you can stream smoother movies, upload videos quicker, and connect more of your devices to the internet with less delays.

However, neither 5G service nor 5G phones are available everywhere just yet, and release dates are different for every carrier. With that being said, there are multiple factors affecting the release date of 5G in the US, though progress is being made daily for a speedy 5G rollout.

US 5G Rollout

  • Verizon: Fixed and mobile 5G is live in a few areas
  • AT&T: Mobile 5G for select customers in 19 cities; wider coverage in 2019
  • T-Mobile: Commercial 5G launch in second half of 2019; nationwide coverage expected in 2020
  • Sprint: Deploying 5G to select areas in May
  • U.S. Cellular: 5G services coming in second half of 2019
  • C Spire: Fixed 5G services in Mississippi
  • Charter: Testing 5G, but no solid rollout plans
  • Starry: Fixed 5G currently in Boston, Denver, LA, New York City, and Washington DC

Not in the US? See 5G Availability Around the World for release dates in other countries like Japan, China, and Australia.

Verizon’s 5G Service

Verizon currently offers 5G broadband internet, called 5G Home, in areas of Houston TX, Sacramento CA, Indianapolis IN, and Los Angeles CA. Pre-orders for Verizon 5G Home started on September 13, 2018, and service began October 1.

The company began offering mobile 5G services on April 3 in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, and will continue expanding the mobile network throughout 2019.

Verizon 5G Home

Currently, anyone who purchases Verizon 5G Home will be a First On 5G member, which will get them free 5G service for three months. After the first three months, Verizon Wireless customers with a qualifying plan pay $50 /month for their home 5G service, and non-members pay $70 /month (these are not annual contracts).

Verizon 5G Home customers have no data caps and can expect speeds ranging from 300 Mbps to up to 1 Gbps, depending on location. This video from Verizon shows one 5G Home user's download, upload, and latency results.

Anyone who receives Verizon's 5G service will also get YouTube TV free for the first three months and a free Apple TV 4K or Google Chromecast Ultra. A few other perks include a free router and free router upgrades when they become available in 2019, and priority when purchasing 5G mobile devices from Verizon (when they become available).

The cities mentioned above that qualify for Verizon 5G Home were some of the first areas where the company began testing 5G, so they might provide 5G in other test locations, including Atlanta, Brockton, Dallas, Bernardsville, Denver, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Miami, and Washington, DC. It’s also possible that other larger cities like New York City and Chicago will have access to Verizon’s 5G service in 2019.

However, because the company won't have standards-based 5G hardware until late 2019, 5G Home service will stay within the four cities mentioned above — at least for now.

Verizon Mobile 5G

Mobile 5G service from Verizon began in early April and is currently available only in limited areas. It costs $10 extra each month and currently only works with the moto z3 when it's paired with the 5G moto mod.

In Chicago, you can get Verizon 5G in these locations: The Loop, River North, Old Town, and a Verizon store in Magnificent Mile.

Minneapolis 5G coverage includes Mall of America (in the Verizon store), Elliot Park, and a few downtown areas.

Some other Verizon 5G devices that will become available in 2019 include the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, LG V50 ThinQ 5G, and Inseego 5G hotspot.

AT&T’s 5G Service

AT&T is expecting to have a nationwide 5G reach by 2020. Beginning December 21, 2018, and continuing currently, the company offers mobile 5G to select customers in 19 cities.

5G from AT&T is available in Houston TX, Dallas TX, Atlanta TX, Waco TX, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, Oklahoma City OK, and Jacksonville FL, Louisville, KY, New Orleans LA, Indianapolis IN, San Antonio TX, Austin TX, Los Angeles CA, Nashville TN, Orlando FL, San Diego CA, San Francisco CA, and San Jose CA.

The initial rollout was available to particular businesses and consumers only, but everyone else will have access in 2019 when AT&T makes their NETGEAR Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot available for purchase.

In 2019, AT&T's 5G service will roll out in more cities including Chicago IL, Las Vegas NV, and Minneapolis MN.

AT&T conducted 5G trials in Waco TX, Kalamazoo MI, and South Bend IN in 2017, and has an "Innovation Zone" in Austin TX to learn how 5G will impact manufacturing.

AT&T has also launched 5G Evolution in dozens of markets in 2018, which is the groundwork before deploying full-blown 5G. AT&T plans to end the year with 5G Evolution in over 400 markets.

AT&T Fiber, which lays the foundation for the company's 5G wireless connectivity, is expected to reach at least 14 million locations by mid-2019.

An AT&T compatible 5G smartphone from Samsung, the Galaxy S10 5G, will be released in 2019.

T-Mobile's 5G Service

T-Mobile rolled out mobile 5G to 30 cities in 2018, a few of which included Los Angeles CA, New York NY, Las Vegas NV, and Dallas TX. However, while those locations are prepared for 5G services, they can't be used yet since there aren't any T-Mobile 5G phones on the market, so commercialization is expected in the second half of 2019.

T-Mobile is also committing to bringing their Metro prepaid service into the 5G space in 2019.

The company plans to cover nearly 2/3 of the US population with 5G by 2021, with speeds exceeding 100 Mbps.

As of September, 2018, T-Mobile already implemented its 5G backbone in over 1,000 cities in 36 states. However, T-Mobile's full nationwide 5G coverage won't be around until 2020, and they're on track having completed their first low-band 5G signal in November, 2018, in Spokane, Washington.

In early 2019, T-Mobile confirmed that on the 600 MHz spectrum, one 5G tower can transmit signals over one thousand square miles.

Compared to millimeter waves which cover a very small area, low-band waves can blast 5G coverage over hundreds of square miles from just one cell tower.

Future users can expect to achieve an average download speed of 450 Mbps, with maximum 5G speeds around 4 Gbps by 2024.

However, Sprint and T-Mobile are looking into merging into one company, which if successfully, might mean that the company could offer in-home 5G services, too. According to an FCC filing, by 2024, "The combined company will be able to offer this service to over 52 percent of zip codes across the county."

Sprint's 5G Service

Sprint will provide mobile 5G service to several cities starting in May, primarily at local airports and/or sports venues. Locations include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City. Other cities getting commercial 5G service from Sprint in the first half of 2019 include Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington D.C.

According to the company, customers "can expect mobile 5G coverage ranging from nearly 30 square miles covering Midtown and lower Manhattan, to approximately 230 square miles spanning the greater Dallas Fort Worth area, for a total initial 5G coverage footprint of more than 1,000 square miles across all nine cities."

A few other estimates include 115 square miles in LA to cover 1.4M people, 85 square miles in Washington, D.C. for 650,000 people, and 20 square miles in Chicago to cover 300,000 people.

To prepare for their 5G rollout in 2019, Sprint deployed to nearly 300 cities their LTE Advanced network which delivers gigabit speeds to compatible devices.

Not only is the new network an improvement on Sprint's existing LTE network and able to be used by customers right now, it also lays the groundwork for 5G since the technology can be upgraded to 5G via a software upgrade.

Sprint announced in 2018, and then confirmed again at MWC Barcelona in 2019, the HTC 5G Hub. Set to launch this spring, the hub has a 5-inch display and will support up to 20 devices so that customers can take 5G with them anywhere they go — home, work, school, etc. — for mobile gaming, entertainment, content sharing, etc.

This means that Sprint's 5G device could even be used as a fixed wireless access in houses, apartments, and small businesses. According to their VP of product engineering and development, "You'll start to see us dip our toe into the water in home internet access with the products that we announce in 2019."

The company is also in collaboration with LG to bring 5G smartphones to the United States in the first half of 2019. Sprint users will also have access to the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G phone this summer, and LG V50 ThinQ 5G this spring.

U.S. Cellular's 5G Service

U.S. Cellular is the fifth-largest wireless telecom network in the U.S., and is another carrier launching 5G in 2019. The company began testing 5G for fixed wireless access in 2016 with Nokia, followed by rural and urban 5G testing with Ericsson in 2017.

In early 2019, U.S. Cellular again tested various 5G use cases with Ericsson, like virtual reality, augmented reality, and massive MIMO, in both urban and rural areas. Following 5G testing with Ericsson, U.S. Cellular selected the Swiss company to deploy 5G to its customers in the second half of 2019.

U.S. Cellular also partnered with Nokia in early 2019 in a 5G modernization deal.

C Spire's 5G Service

C Spire, the largest privately held wireless provider in the US, launched a 5G fixed wireless access service in December, 2018. The 5G service from C Spire costs $50 /month, has no data cap or long-term contract, and offers speeds of up to 120 Mbps.

5G is currently available for select customers in Mississippi, including the Sara Fox and Stonebridge subdivisions in Brandon, Lexington subdivision in Florence, Greenfield Village area in Pearl, and downtown Clarksdale. Check 5G availability to see if C Spire's 5G service is offered where you live, or fill out this form to express your interest in getting 5G in your neighborhood.

You can even get free 5G internet from C Spire by becoming a 5G Internet Hub Home, which is where you agree to let C Spire attach 5G equipment to your house which is then related to your neighbors, thus extending their network.

The 5G FWA service from C Spire uses 28 GHz equipment provided by Phazr. Despite the service speed set at 120 Mbps, users have reportedly been able to achieve download speeds of up to 750 Mbps and upload speeds as fast as 600 Mbps, with latency as low as 8 ms.

The company's president says that C Spire "plans to deploy fixed wireless internet service to thousands of consumers and businesses across the state over the next several years."

Charter's 5G Service

Although Charter (Spectrum) currently doesn't have a wireless offering, the company is testing 5G wireless in Orlando FL, Reno NV, Clarksville TN, Columbus OH, Bakersfield CA, and Grand Rapids MI.

Starry's 5G Service

Starry has fixed 5G services available in Boston MA, Denver CO, Los Angeles CA, New York City NY, and Washington DC. The 5G plan from Starry runs $50 /month for 200 Mbps speeds and no data cap.

The company has plans to bring 5G to homes in other US cities but it's unclear when it will take place. They include Cleveland OH, Chicago IL, Houston TX, Dallas TX, Seattle WA, Detroit MI, Atlanta GA, Indianapolis IN, San Francisco CA, Philadelphia PA, Miami FL, Memphis TN, Phoenix AZ, Minneapolis MN, Manchester NH, Portland OR, and Sioux Falls SD.

Starry Connect is a program that provides free or low-cost 5G internet to buildings in low-income areas. See Starry: Technology to learn more about how they're implementing 5G.