Following the launch of Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T )’s C-band 5G networks earlier this week, many mobile device users in the United States now have access to lightning-fast internet speeds.
While telecom companies have rolled out 5G networks in various locations across the country in recent years, many have arguably delivered an experience that is only a notch above what 4G offers. AT&T (T), the parent company of CNN, and Verizon have now activated C-band 5G networks, which are a critical set of higher radio frequencies. These networks will supercharge the internet as we know it, allowing users to stream a Netflix movie in 4K resolution or download a movie in seconds, for example.
However, not everyone will be able to take advantage of these C-band 5G networks right away. To get one, you’ll need three things: a newer smartphone model that supports 5G, a 5G-specific cellular plan, and to be in an area where the new coverage is available.
Here’s what you should know:
AT&T and Verizon’s new C-band 5G networks are compatible with a few devices, including the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models, the Samsung Galaxy S21 line, and, soon, Google’s Pixel 6 phones.
If you have an Android device, you can find out which networks it supports by going to Settings, then Network and Internet, and then Mobile Network. Open Settings, then Cellular, and then Cellular Data Options on iOS. If you’re using Dual SIM on iOS, go to Settings, Cellular, and select the number whose options you’d like to change.
However, if you haven’t purchased a new smartphone in the last two years, you’re most likely using a 3G or 4G phone. It’s only a matter of time before the majority of new phones include built-in 5G support, as manufacturers and carriers push customers toward it over other networks.
Even if you own a 5G device, you’ll still need a 5G-specific plan to connect to the faster C-band network. Existing 5G subscribers can do so at no extra cost. AT&T and Verizon both offer plans starting at $35 per month for each phone line. Verizon also announced a $50-per-month 5G home internet plan for its C-band network.
Even if you have a 5G-capable device and a 5G mobile plan, you may be unable to connect to the new faster 5G network. AT&T’s new C-band 5G network, dubbed the 5G+ network, is currently available only in eight metro areas: Chicago, Houston, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Miami, Jacksonville, and Orlando. The company stated that it will expand to more cities throughout the year, most likely in cities where 5G in other bands has already been launched.
Anyone with a 5G-compatible phone will be able to connect to the network by downloading the most recent mobile operating system. When the network is available on AT&T’s network, anyone in a 5G+ market will see a “5G+” at the top of the device.
Meanwhile, Verizon announced that its new 5G Ultra Wideband network will be available to 100 million more people in over 1,700 US cities this month, including Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, and even smaller towns like Dayton, Ohio, and Rochester, New York. Verizon’s website has a coverage map that you can use to see if service is available in your area.
When a 5G phone on one of the plans is detected on the network, a “5G UW” indicator will appear in the top right corner of the device.