Verizon kicks off 5G network one week early; Chicago and Minneapolis go live

Verizon on Wednesday launched its mobile 5G network in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, a shade over one week earlier than anticipated.

As to why the carrier moved things up unexpectedly and without warning, there’s a very obvious reason. By doing so it is able to claim that it’s “first commercial 5G network in the world that works with a 5G smartphone”. A feather in its proverbial cap, if you will.

Earlier in the day Korea’s SK Telecom announced it intended to launch its commercial 5G network on April 5. Coinciding with the debut of the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, it was originally going to be the world’s first network to do so.

Should you wish to be pedantic, you can still give SK Telecom the credit for launching the first 5G network with a phone that has 5G built into it. Verizon’s only option right now is the Motorola Moto Z3 and its 5G MotoMod accessory.

Verizon’s 5G service costs and extra $10 per month and the Ultra Wideband speeds are available only in parts of select markets. Theoretically, customers can expect download speeds of up to 450 Mbps with peak speeds of nearly 1 Gbps.

In Chicago, 5G coverage is concentrated in areas of the West Loop and the South Loop, around landmarks like Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and The Chicago Theatre. Customers also have 5G Ultra Wideband service in the Verizon store on The Magnificent Mile and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North.

In Minneapolis, service is concentrated in the Downtown area, including Downtown West and Downtown East, as well as inside and around U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of this weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service is also available around landmarks like the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Central Library, the Mill City Museum, Target Center and First Avenue venues, The Commons, areas of Elliot Park and in the Verizon store in The Mall of America.

Looking ahead, Verizon will offer additional phones with 5G support; the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and LG V50 5G are the next two in line.

The 5G network is expected to expand to more than 30 cities over the span of 2019.