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Verizon Set to Launch 5G Service in San Diego, Calif.

Until now, the company has used 5G to deliver speedy downloads but relied on 4G for uploads. One of the most frequent requests from customers since the coronavirus shelter-in-place orders has been for faster uploads, the company said.

by Mike Freeman, The San Diego Union-Tribune / May 21, 2020
Shutterstock/dennizn

(TNS) — Verizon will light up its 5G network in parts of San Diego on May 28, joining T-Mobile and AT&T in offering next-generation wireless service to subscribers with 5G smartphones.

San Diego is the 35th city nationwide to get Verizon's version of 5G called Ultra Wideband. It taps high-frequency airwaves known as millimeter wave to deliver download speeds up to 10 times faster than current mobile networks, with unnoticeable transmission delays.

That's different from AT&T and T-Mobile, which have rolled out 5G service on lower-frequency airwaves, for now.

The benefit of these low frequencies is they cover large geographic areas and penetrate buildings better than millimeter wave, which is limited mostly to outdoor use within certain neighborhoods.

Low-frequency 5G is not as fast as millimeter wave, however. Some speed tests rank it as only slightly better than advanced 4G networks.

(T-Mobile is converting some mid-band frequency airwaves acquired in the recent merger with Sprint over to 5G, which should deliver improved speeds over distances.)

In San Diego, Verizon's 5G service initially will be concentrated in parts of Mission Valley near Westfield Mission Valley and SDCCU Stadium; Linda Vista along Linda Vista Road; Kensington near El Cajon Boulevard; and Bankers Hill on First Avenue.

"We will be expanding the San Diego footprint throughout 2020 and beyond, but I don't have any specifics to share at this time," said Heidi Flato, a Verizon spokeswoman.

When customers move outside Verizon's 5G coverage, their smartphones will automatically transition to the company's 4G LTE network.

With millions either working from home or attending classes online, the importance of high-speed connectivity has become clear, said Durga Malladi, senior vice president of 4G/5G for Qualcomm.

The San Diego company has been working on the development of 5G for more than a decade, inventing some of the foundational technologies that make it possible, including around millimeter wave.

"We are proud that fellow San Diegans will be able to start experiencing the next generation of wireless that aims to support critical industries and initiatives in their digital transformation," said Malladi.

To access 5G, consumers must buy a 5G capable smartphone or mobile hotspot. Verizon offers several devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S20, OnePlus 8, LG V60 ThinQ and Motorola Edge+.

Verizon includes 5G as part of three unlimited data plans at no extra charge. 5G is not offered in other Verizon plans.

In addition to bringing 5G to San Diego, Verizon also said Wednesday that it is improving its uplink speeds for 5G devices.

Until now, the company has used 5G to deliver speedy downloads but relied on 4G for uploads. One of the most frequent requests from customers since the coronavirus shelter-in-place orders has been for faster uploads, the company said.

"This makes it easier to upload high-definition videos to social networks, backup work and school projects to the cloud and play massive multiplayer games," the company said.

Customers should see upload speeds about 30 percent faster than 4G initially, the company said. It will be available in all 35 cities with 5G, including San Diego, as well as any stadium or arena with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service.

Verizon also said it entered partnerships with Movandi Corp., Pivotal Commware and Wistron NeWeb Corp. to provide extender technology that will amplify millimeter wave coverage in public spaces, as well as in homes and buildings.

Verizon is also working with Movandi, NXP Semiconductors and Qualcomm to develop the latest chip technology for its 5G Home broadband business.

"Our customers' need for 5G is accelerating," said Kyle Malady, chief technology officer for Verizon.

©2020 The San Diego Union-Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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