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Which U.S. Carrier Is Winning The 5G Race?

With the four major U.S. carriers claiming to be winning the race to 5G wide-spread coverage, we take a look at which locations in the U.S. 5G connectivity has been deployed in and how many people can access the 5G networks and benefit from the lightning fast internet speeds.

Sprint began rolling out 5G in May 2019 launching its True Mobile 5G using Massive MIMO radios that run on Sprint’s 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum. The True Mobile 5G was deployed in areas of Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City.

In Atlanta, the 5G service initially covered approximately 150 square miles and 565,000 people from downtown to Dunwoody. Dallas-Fort Worth, Sprint claimed to cover approximately 575 square miles and 1.6 million people across the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area serving Irving and downtown Fort Worth, including Sundance Square, Las Colinas, and the North Dallas area from Preston Hollow to Addison. Houston had initially 5G coverage of approximately 165 square miles and 800,000 people across the cultural center of Houston from downtown to Memorial City Mall/City Centre Plaza. Kansas City coverage was initially approximately 225 square miles and 625,000 people from downtown Kansas City, MO, to Overland Park, KS.

Shortly after, Sprint launched 5G in Chicago in July 2019 to approximately 700,000 people. Areas covered by the 5G network include popular destinations such as Magnificent Mile, River North, Millennium Park, River Front, The Loop and Grant Park, as well as the neighborhoods of Gold Coast, Old Town, West Loop, Ukrainian Village, Medical Village, University of Illinois at Chicago, South Loop and more.

Sprint continued its rollout of 5G and in August 2019 the company launched its True Mobile 5G in  areas of Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. In Los Angeles, the service aimed to cover approximately 1.2 million people with service available from Marina del Rey to Downtown L.A., and West Hollywood to Culver City. Sprint had stated it had rolled out the service in popular locations such as USC, UCLA, West L.A., Midtown and Downtown Los Angeles, including LA Live and the LA Convention Center. In addition, Sprint 5G had also been deployed in parts of Orange County, Pasadena and Cerritos.

In New York City, the 5G service was initially deployed to cover approximately 1.7 million people with service availability in parts of Manhattan from Central Park to the southern tip. The service was also deployed in parts of Midtown East and West, including popular destinations such as Times Square, Chelsea Piers, Rockefeller Center, and the areas around Jacob Javits Center and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Pars of the Upper East Side including Lenox Hill and Yorkville areas; and the Lincoln Square area of the Upper West Side, as well as parts of Greenwich Village, East Village, and Chinatown in Lower Manhattan were also initially covered. Other locations initially covered included the ingress and egress to La Guardia and JFK Airports, parts of Flushing and Rockaway Beach in Queens, Red Hook in Brooklyn and Concourse in the Bronx.

In Phoenix, Sprint had initially aimed to cover approximately 740,000 people with service available across the greater Phoenix metro area with service in parts of Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and Glendale. Popular destinations such as Mill Avenue near ASU, Sun Devil Stadium, Wells Fargo Arena, Grand Canyon University, Heard Museum, Sloan Park, Scottsdale Waterfront at Stetson Canal, Old Town Scottsdale and the Biltmore area along Camelback Road were also included in the initial rollout.

In Washington D.C., approximately 520,000 people were planned to have access to the 5G service around the US Capitol, the White House, the National Mall, Foggy Bottom, Downtown, Penn Quarter/Metro Center, Dupont Circle, West End, Logan Circle, Southwest, Shaw/Howard University, U-Street Corridor, NoMA, Atlas District, Brentwood/Edgewood, Catholic University, Trinity College, Bloomingdale, Columbia Heights, Sheridan-Kalorama, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park , Forest Hills, Wesley Heights, American University, Friendship Heights, Glover Park, McLean Gardens, Foxhall/Spring Valley, Cathedral Heights, Observatory Circle and Carver Langston. Just outside of D.C., Sprint made their 5G service available in areas of Maryland’s Montgomery County, including Bethesda/North Bethesda, NIH/Walter Reed, Chevy Chase and Cabin John. Northern Virginia also benefitted from Sprint 5G deployment with availability in areas of Arlington, including Rosslyn, National Cemetery and Crystal City, as well as McLean and Tysons Corner in Fairfax County.

Sprint announced in August 2019 that it was continuing to expand its 5G coverage in its initial four service areas, Kansas City, Atlanta, Dallas-Forth Worth and Houston. Those initial 9 service areas were slated to cover 2,100 square miles and 11 million people. In October 2019, Sprint announced that it had expanded it’s coverage to 16 million people within the initial 9 service areas, adding in new coverage areas. Sprint is offering four 5G compatible devices, LG V50 ThinQ 5G, Samsung GS10 5G, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and HTC 5G Hub.

AT&T started offering a 5G mobile device over a commercial, standards-based 5G network in December 2018 in parts of 12 cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio and Waco, Texas. It was not clear from the announcement what specific areas would be covered or how many people would be able to access the 5G network. Nonetheless, in March 2019, the company claimed to be the first carrier in the U.S. to surpass gigabit speeds on their 5G network. The following month, AT&T claimed to have reached peak speeds surpassing 2 gigabits per second on its live, commercial 5G network in Atlanta.

In April 2019, AT&T announced that its 5G service was live in parts of 7 more cities, including Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose bringing the total number of cities where AT&T had deployed its 5G network to 19.

In June 2019, AT&T announced the launch of its 5G network in parts of Las Vegas to business customers. Two months later, the company announced the launch of 5G in limited areas of New York City, available initially to business customers and developers. Although initially deployed in limited areas, the company set out plans to extend the service to more neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.

AT&T issued an update in November 2019 on their 5G plans stating that the company is planning on bringing 5G to tens of millions of consumers and businesses this year. The Company still plans to bring nationwide 5G using its lower band spectrum (sub-6 GHz) in the first half of 2020, as well as, continuing to offer 5G+ coverage over millimeter wave spectrum.

AT&T announced plans to launch its 5G network over low-band spectrum in the Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Providence, R.I., Rochester, N.Y., and San Diego market areas, as well as in several more markets, including Boston, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, New York City, San Francisco, Birmingham, Ala., Bridgeport, Conn., Buffalo, N.Y., Louisville, Ky., and San Jose, Calif. AT&T’s 5G+ over mmWave spectrum is currently available in parts of 21 cities, with plans to extend its coverage to parts of 30 cities in early 2020.

AT&T made its first 5G device available to consumers in November 2019, the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G.

Although AT&T has not detailed specific population coverage figures or detailed location availability as Sprint has, the company has published coverage maps. Although the company has frequently announced its 5G coverage available in only parts of cities, the maps would indicate widespread coverage.

Verizon claimed to be the first to launch the world’s first commercial 5G network in October 2018. The service was initially deployed in parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento using the Verizon-led open 5G TF network standard. Details of coverage areas within the cities were not available in the press releases. Panama City, Florida was also named as a 5G city in October 2018 when Verizon committed to investing $25 million to build the most technologically advanced wireless network in the area.

In February 2019, Verizon announced that it would be the first U.S. wireless provider to offer Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G in the first half of 2019 when the company’s 5G Ultra Wideband NR network goes live. Verizon shortly after announced the availability of the Motorola moto z3 with 5G moto mod and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G in the first half of 2019. The company announced plans to launch its service in more than 30 U.S. cities in 2019.

Verizon switched on its 5G Ultra Wideband Network in select areas of Minneapolis and Chicago in April 2019. The company claimed that its network was the first commercial 5G network in the world that worked with the first commercially available 5G-enabled smartphone, the moto z3 combined with 5G moto mod.

In Chicago, the service was initially deployed 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 could also access Verizon’s Ultra Wideband service in the Verizon store on The Magnificent Mile and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North.

According to Verizon, coverage areas where 5G was initially available was 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 was also initially 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.

In April 2019, Verizon announced 20 U.S. cities that were slated to get 5G Ultra Wideband service in 2019. The cities included Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Phoenix, Providence, San Diego, Salt Lake City and Washington D.C. Additionally, Verizon announced plans to roll out its 5G Home broadband internet service in some of those markets.

Verizon announced that it had officially turned on its 5G Ultra Wideband Network in select areas of Denver in July 2019. The 5G service was initially available in select areas of Providence. The service was available to businesses and consumers. Verizon’s Ultra Wideband Network was initially concentrated in areas of Highlands, South of 37th between Tejon and Navajo Streets. Coverage was also available throughout LoDo and around Coors Field. 5G service was also available in the Central Business District around popular landmarks like the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Sculpture Park, and outside Paramount Theatre. Areas of Capitol Hill and Northern Sections of The Denver Tech Center were also named as areas where the 5G Ultra Wideband Network was available.

In Providence, Verizon’s Ultra Wideband Network was also available in parts of College Hill, Federal Hill, Mt. Hope, and around landmarks like Brown University (Erickson Athletic Complex, Wriston Quadrangle), Rhode Island School of Design and Providence College.

In July 2019, Verizon launched its 5G Ultra Wideband network in St. Paul’s, Minnesota. The service was initially made available in parts of Downtown, Lowertown and West Seventh neighborhoods around such landmarks as the Minnesota Children’s Museum, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Fitzgerald Theater, Cathedral Hill Park and the Alexander Ramsey House.

Later on in July, customers in Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis and Washington, DC were able to connect to Verizon’s 5G Ultran Wideband network bringing the total number of cities with 5G access to nine.

In Washington DC, service was initially made available in areas of Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle, Cardozo / U Street, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Le Droit Park, Georgetown Waterfront, Judiciary Square, Shaw, Eckington, NOMA, National Mall and the Smithsonian, Gallery Place / Chinatown, Mt. Vernon Square, Downtown, Penn Quarter, Brentwood, Southwest Waterfront, Navy Yard, and nearby Crystal City, VA, as well as around landmarks such as the Ronald Reagan National Airport, United States Botanical Gardens, Hart Senate Building, National Gallery of Art, Lafayette Square, The White House, Freedom Plaza, Farragut Square, George Washington University, Capital One Arena, Union Station, Howard University Hospital, George Washington University Hospital, and Georgetown Waterfront Park.

In Atlanta, Verizon’s 5G service was initially concentrated in parts of Downtown, Midtown, Tech Square, and around such landmarks as The Fox Theater, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Home Depot Backyard, Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca Cola, and parts of Renaissance Park.

In Detroit, 5G was initially available in parts of Dearborn, Livonia, and Troy, including areas around the Oakland-Troy Airport.

In Indianapolis, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service was initially available in parts of Arsenal Heights, Bates Hendricks, Castleton, Crown Hill, Fountain Square, Grace Tuxedo Park, Hawthorne, Historic Meridian Park, Lockerbie Square, Ransom Place, Renaissance Place, St. Joseph Historic Neighborhood, Upper Canal and Woodruff Place and around such landmarks and public spaces as Garfield Park, and Indiana University School of Medicine.

In August 2019, Verizon continued its 5G rollout launching its service in part of Greater Phoenix, Arizona. Coverage was initially available in Downtown Phoenix around several well-known landmarks, including: Phoenix Convention Center, Talking Stick Resort Arena, The Orpheum Theatre, CityScape, and Chase Field, as well as, in Tempe, on the Arizona State University campus.

Verizon launched its 5G service in New York City, Panama City, Florida and Boise, Idaho in September 2019. In New York City, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network was initially available in parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and around several landmarks throughout the city. In Manhattan, service was available in parts of Midtown, Financial District, Harlem, East Harlem, Hell’s Kitchen and Washington Heights. In Brooklyn, customers in Downtown Brooklyn could access the 5G network. Service was made available in The Bronx in parts of Pelham Bay, Fordham Heights, and Hunt’s Point. Landmarks such as Bryant Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Madison Square Garden, Trinity Park (Brooklyn), the Lincoln Tunnel (Manhattan Entrance), Javits Center on 11th Ave between 36th and 37th, and the Theatre District on Broadway between 49th and 52nd had access.

In Panama City, 5G Ultra Wideband service was initially concentrated in parts of Downtown Panama City, Forest Park, and Lower Grand Lagoon in Panama City Beach.

In Boise, Verizon’s 5G network was concentrated in parts of Downtown Boise, West Boise, West End, Meridian, Boise Junction around such landmarks as the Idaho State Capitol, St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center, Fort Boise Park, Capital City Event Center, and Boise Town Square.

Verizon launched its 5G Home Broadband in Chicago in October 2019, the fifth city to have availability. 5G Home Broadband had already been made available in parts of Houston, Indianapolis, LA and Sacramento.

Verizon announced in November that its 5G Ultra Wideband network was available in parts of Boston, Massachusetts, Houston, Texas and Sioux Falls, South Dakota bringing the total number of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband mobility service cities to 18.

In Boston, 5G Ultra Wideband service had initially been concentrated in Fenway, along Brookline Avenue near Beth Israel Hospital and around landmarks such as Fenway Park, Emmanuel College, Northeastern University, Simmons College, Harvard Medical School.

In Houston, 5G Ultra Wideband service was initially made available in parts of East Downtown, Uptown, Greenway Plaza, Museum District, Rice Village and around landmarks such as The Galleria Mall, NRG Stadium, BBVA Compass Stadium and Rice University Stadium.

In Sioux Falls, 5G Ultra Wideband service was initially concentrated in Downtown Sioux Falls around such landmarks as Levitt at the Falls, Orpheum Theatre, Washington Pavilion, State Theatre, and US Federal Courthouse.

Verizon stated that it still plans to have 5G access in more than 30 cities by the end of this year. Like AT&T, Verizon has not announced how many people are benefitting from its 5G network. Looking at the coverage maps on Verizon’s website, the coverage seems limited to parts of the cities rather than widely deployed. Verizon has stated in some of its announcements that its 5G coverage has been initially deployed in high traffic areas and often around landmarks.

T-Mobile announced in February 2018 that it planned to build out 5G in 30 cities throughout 2018, as part of its plan to deliver nationwide coverage. Customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas were planned as the first locations where 5G could be experienced, when the first 5G smartphones launched in early 2019. At this stage, T-Mobile made it clear that it would be focusing on nationwide coverage rather than hotspots.

T-Mobile announced on November 2018 that it had completed the world’s first 5G data transmission on low-band spectrum (600 MHz) with Nokia. The company had commented on the benefits of low-band spectrum with its wide-area reach and reliable coverage that travels over distance, into buildings, and is not limited to line of sight.

In March 2019, T-Mobile stated that if the proposed merger with Sprint was approved, it planned to cover more than half of U.S. households with 5G broadband service by 2024.

T-Mobile announced that the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G would be available through T-Mobile from June 28, allowing customers to boost T-Mobile’s advanced LTE network with 5G in parts of six city centers: Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York using mmWave high-band spectrum. T-Mobile published a mmWave coverage map. The company also stated that if the merger with Sprint was approved that it would utilize its low-band and high-band mmWave spectrum, along with Sprint’s mid-band spectrum to deliver a nationwide 5G network.

T-Mobile announced the launch of its nationwide 5G network on December 2, 2019 with a coverage area of more than 1 million square miles, covering more than 200 million Americans and more than 5,000 cities and towns across the U.S. According to the press release, T-Mobile’s network covers more than 60% of the population with a significant focus of offering coverage in rural America. T-Mobile has published a coverage map.

Conclusion

The four U.S. carriers are building out 5G in their own unique ways, using different infrastructure and spectrum and different strategies along the way. Sprint, which is initially building out in cities has last announced that it is expanding its 5G coverage to 16 million people. AT&T has brought 5G to parts of 21 cities and plans to extend this to 30 cities in early 2020. According to AT&T, it is planning on bring 5G to tens of millions of customers this year. Verizon has announced plans to deploy 5G to parts of 30 cities by the end of 2019. The company has provided specific coverage area information throughout its 5G build out and deployment seems to be geared towards deploying in high traffic areas and hotspots in cities. T-Mobile, the Un-carrier, has announced widespread coverage of its 5G network, covering more than 200 million people. Unlike the others, T-Mobile has focussed on rural America and widespread coverage rather than hotspots in cities.

All of the carriers are making progress with building 5G out and all have celebrated first’s on their journey so far. The next year will be significant as we see the carriers extend their coverage out further, bringing 5G to more businesses and consumers, as we continue to see the true potential of 5G.