Verizon Communications Inc. 5G wireless signage is displayed at the company’s booth during the Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles. Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon

Verizon launches limited 5G mobile in Atlanta

As fast and revolutionary as 5G mobile data service is supposed to be, its early rollout by wireless carriers in Atlanta is spotty.

Mobile giant Verizon announced Wednesday that it has launched its first 5G service in Georgia. But, for now, what it calls 5G Ultra Wideband is available only in certain parts of downtown and Midtown Atlanta. The service focuses around Tech Square and spots such as Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Fox Theatre, Emory University Hospital Midtown, as well as Centennial Olympic Park and nearby attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola.

“This is just the beginning,” spokesperson Kate Jay said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “5G will be the technology of the future and it will be our focus from a network build perspective for the next several years. We’re just getting started.”

Carriers have boasted about 5G’s improved speed and potential to expand how consumers and businesses use smart phones. But it takes time to put in place infrastructure and stock 5G-enabled phones, which are necessry for consumers to use the service. Some carriers are starting with 5G technology that has limited range and is especially vulnerable to being blocked by buildings.

AT&T isn’t yet offering an update on its plans locally. It has said it already provides what it calls 5G+ in “multiple iconic locations throughout the city,” though it isn’t available over wide swaths of the metro area.

In May, Sprint launched what appears to be the region’s broadest 5G coverage. It said it covers 150 square miles, much of it from downtown Atlanta to Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and parts of Cobb County. A Sprint executive said speeds would average five times faster than typical 4G LTE, which is common among carriers. Speeds, he said, would continue to increase.

T-Mobile made 5G-enabled phones available in metro Atlanta in June, with 5G coverage in scattered intown Atlanta spots. The carrier said it will have broader coverage around the nation later this year and have 5G nationwide coverage in 2020.

Verizon said it offers five different 5G-enabled devices. Its service was already available in several U.S. cities before announcing Wednesday’s launch of 5G in parts of Washington DC, Detroit, and Indianapolis, in addition to Atlanta.

Verizon chief technology officer Kyle Malady said in a press release that “Customers in these cities are at the forefront of game-changing technology, with access to download speeds and bandwidth that will power the future of consumer, business and government mobile applications.”

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