Verizon mmWave 5G coverage will almost double this year, says carrier

Verizon mmWave 5G coverage is set to almost double this year, according to a statement in the company’s latest earnings report. The carrier says that it will add 14,000 mmWave 5G locations to the 16,000 it already has.

The announcement does, however, need to be understood in context …

The company made the statement in yesterday’s earnings call.

When it comes to our 5G and investing in our business, we have a big year in front of us in 2021. Again, we’re going to almost double the amount of 5G Ultra Wideband sites. We’re going to have 14,000 new sites coming in during 2021. That will enable us to continue to increase with plus 20 cities when it comes to 5G Ultra Wideband. And we’re also going to add some plus 20 5G Home cities, at the same time, focusing very much on the 5G Mobile Edge Compute with 10 more sites when it comes to the public side.

mmWave 5G is the fastest version of the mobile data standard, capable of exceeding gigabit speeds in ideal conditions. However, it’s also the 5G version with the shortest range, closer to a wi-fi hotspot than a normal mobile data base station.

That means that even 30,000 locations will still make getting a mmWave 5G connection a relatively rare occurrence. In particular, it’s worth noting that the reference to ‘densification’ may mean that some of this expansion is simply expanding the footprint of mmWave 5G coverage at existing locations.

Our consolidated capital spend for full year 2021 is expected to be between $17.5 billion and $18.5 billion, consistent with the prior year and within our normal capital intensity range. Our focus for the year includes further expansion of our 5G Ultra Wideband Network in new and existing markets, densification of our network to manage future traffic demands and continued deployment of our fiber infrastructure.

Verizon claims that its particular version of mmWave 5G has the potential to hit 10 gigabit speeds.

We were first to reach 953 Mbps in a real-world environment using Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) and the first to smash the gigabit speed barrier in wireless. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband has the potential to deliver peak data rates of over 10 Gbps. Downloads that used to take minutes will take seconds, 4K video will stream with virtually no buffering and you’ll be able to video-chat in HD with near zero lag.

Sadly for the company, its announcement was eclipsed by a major Fios outage on the east coast, hitting services like Slack, Zoom and Google Meet. It also coincided with a pair of reports suggesting that T-Mobile is your best bet for 5G at present.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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