T-Mobile, Verizon admit most Americans won’t see fast 5G

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Mobile service providers Verizon and T-Mobile admit that most Americans will not see the fast version of 5G.

Rural areas of the country will likely only have access to the slower 6-GHz version as opposed to the incredibly fast but less versatile millimeter wave 5G. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said as much during a phone call Tuesday discussing the company’s first-quarter earnings. “We all need to remind ourselves this is not a coverage spectrum,” Vestberg said.

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray made similar comments the day prior, specifically attacking Verizon and its 5G rollout. “Verizon’s mmWave-only 5G plan is only for the few,” Ray said. “And it will never reach rural America.”

Ray also accused T-Mobile’s rivals of rushing the technology, attempting to deploy questionable 5G when most phones aren’t even yet compatible with the network. “Our 5G goal is not headlines or buzz or bragging rights. No, we’re going to do this right… and when it’s ready for our customers,” Ray added. “And in a way that allows us to bring the benefits of 5G to the whole country.”

The T-Mobile exec also pointed to Verizon’s recent 5G launches in Chicago and Minneapolis, where customers could barely find a connection given that millimeter wave 5G has difficulty traveling through buildings and other obstructions.

“Some of this is physics—millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn’t travel far from the cell site and doesn’t penetrate materials at all,” Ray said. “It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.”

While some Americans may be able to access 5G, there’s a good chance you aren’t one of them. Until 5G phones become the norm and strong connections abound, 5G may still be more hype than substance.

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H/T the Verge

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.