Verizon’s 5G Rollout Experiences Are a Mixed Bag So Far

While performance for those using the prototype 5G network was great, coverage was very limited

Verizon’s rollout last week of its proprietary 5G home service was met with a fair amount of vociferous skepticism. While the criticisms had their fair share of cattiness, they seemed to center primarily around just how limited the service coverage was rather than the quality of the service, or whether it truly constituted a 5G network. 

On the question of coverage, it was certainly a limited rollout including just four cities: Sacramento, Los Angeles, Houston and Indianapolis. However, even within that limited number of cities, Verizon never made it known exactly how much coverage they would be offering. It became clear after the rollout that the coverage would be limited to a few restricted neighborhoods in these cities.

While coverage limitations garnered most of the complaints, the design of the network was not beyond reproach. The limited rollout had all the earmarks of 5G: millimeter wave (mmWave) transmission and small cells. However, Verizon’s 5G home service was more or less a prototype and did not meet the industry standards for 5G set out in Release 15 of the 5G New Radio specifications, scheduled for rollout in 2019. Nonetheless, to get to that standard seemed to be merely a matter of  updating the software. But even Verizon acknowledged that the limited network they were rolling out would not scale up and would not resemble the 5G it intended to have in the years to come.