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

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

Picture of 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, 5G service isn’t 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.

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

Verizon’s 5G Service

Verizon currently offers 5G broadband internet 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.

Anyone who purchases Verizon 5G Home through that link above 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).

Verizon 5G Home is internet for your home. Verizon does not currently offer a mobile 5G service, though they expect a live mobile 5G network in 2019, and have already begun installing 5G equipment in preparation.

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 service might stay within the four cities mentioned above — at least for now.

When Verizon goes live with a mobile 5G network, the Motorola moto z3, paired with the 5G moto mod, will be the first smartphone capable of accessing it. Also available in early 2019 will be a Samsung 5G smartphone and an Inseego 5G hotspot that can access Verizon's mobile network.

AT&T’s 5G Service

AT&T is expecting to have a nationwide 5G reach by 2020. On December 21, 2018, they began offering mobile 5G services in the following cities: Houston TX, Dallas TX, Atlanta TX, Waco TX, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, Oklahoma City OK, Jacksonville FL, Louisville, KY, New Orleans LA, Indianapolis IN, and San Antonio TX.

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, beginning with parts of: Chicago, IL, Las Vegas NV, Los Angeles CA, Minneapolis, MN, Nashville TN, Orlando FL, San Diego CA, San Francisco CA, and San Jose CA.

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 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.

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 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 plans to provide mobile 5G service to several cities starting in the first half of 2019. The first nine 5G cities include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington D.C.

According to Sprint, their 5G network will "begin with contiguous footprints in the downtown areas of these first nine cities, allowing for its on-the-go customers to stay connected to 5G through the city center."

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 November, 2018, that they are working on a 5G mobile hub with HTC and plan to release it in the first half of 2019 for use on their mobile 5G network (it will work on 4G, too). According to the press release, the 5G smart hub will "allow customers on the go, at work or at home to enjoy Sprint 5G on multiple devices with incredibly fast connectivity for content sharing, mobile gaming, entertainment and so much more."

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 a Samsung 5G phone in the summer of 2019.

Charter's 5G Service

Although Charter (Spectrum) currently does not have a wireless offering, CEO Tom Rutledge says that they plan to launch one before 2019. We can assume that this will be a 5G service given that they're testing 5G wireless in Orlando FL, Reno NV, Clarksville TN, Columbus OH, Bakersfield CA, and Grand Rapids MI.

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. It's currently available for select customers in a Harison County subdivision in Mississippi.

The 5G FWA service from C Spire uses 28 GHz equipment provided by Phazr. Users have 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."