After years of hype, consumers are about to see if 5G networking can live up to the promises of blazing fast data speeds — at least if they're living in the right neighborhood to test out the next-generation service.
Verizon today (Sept. 11) said it will launch Verizon 5G Home on Oct. 1. That's Big Red's 5G-based internet broadband service, which Verizon is touting as the first commercial 5G service in the U.S. Customers will be able to sign up for the service on Thursday (Sept. 13) starting at 8 a.m. ET by heading to Verizon's 5G website (opens in new tab).
This won't be a wide launch. Verizon 5G Home is only available in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, initially, and only in certain neighborhoods of those four cities. Verizon says it will expand 5G broadband internet to additional cities, but didn't provide a time frame.
Note that this isn't 5G wireless service — that's not arriving until next year when 5G-ready phones are expected to become available. Instead, this is home internet, which Verizon is touting as ideal for cord cutters looking to ditch cable TV.
5G promises peak speeds of 1 Gbps. Verizon 5G Home customers will see typical speeds speeds of around 300 Mbps, Verizon says. There are no data caps with Verizon 5G Home.
If you turn out to be eligible for 5G broadband through Verizon, you won't pay anything for the service initially. Verizon will provide the service free to early adapters for three months. After that, though, the cost goes up considerably: Verizon wireless customers with a qualifying phone plan will pay $50 a month while the service will run subscribers without Verizon Wireless $70 a month. Taxes and fees are included in that rate, and there's no annual contract.
Verizon is offering some additional perks to initial 5G Home customers if that $50 to $70 monthly price tag is giving you pause. You'll get three free months of the YouTube TV streaming service that normally costs $40 a month. Verizon's also including a free Apple TV 4K or Google Chromecast Ultra for 5G Home customers. And Verizon says that early subscribers will be among the first given a chance to buy 5G mobile devices as those become available.
Launching a 5G broadband service has been part of Verizon's 5G roll-out for a while, as the carrier gears up toward launching its 5G mobile network next year. In its 5G Home announcement Verizon said it expects to be the first carrier to offer 5G mobile service, though its rivals may have something to say about that.
Just yesterday, AT&T announced plans to expand its 5G roll-out to additional cities by the end of the year via 5G-ready hotspot devices. T-Mobile plans to build out 5G in 30 cities by the year, scoffing at other carriers' plans to use puck-shaped hotspots and fixed routers to launch the service. Sprint is shooting for early 2019 for launching its mobile 5G service.