Verizon 5G Can’t Even Cover a Whole NBA Arena
All the major US carriers have some sort of 5G network, but phones that support the service are still few and far between. Maybe that’s not so bad because 5G isn’t the best experience even if you have one of those expensive new phones. Verizon just announced indoor 5G for several arenas in cooperation with the NBA, but it can’t even provide a 5G connection to all seating areas.
Carriers like Verizon tout the theoretical multi-gigabit speeds of 5G service, but good luck finding a good 5G signal. Those super-fast data speeds are only attainable with millimeter-wave 5G, which operates in the tens of gigahertz. These signals can carry a lot of data, but they don’t pass through obstacles like walls. Lower-frequency “sub-6” 5G is closer to and even overlapping with LTE frequencies. They’re not as fast, but they can actually pass through obstacles.
In the US market, there’s a severe lack of mid-band 5G in the sub-6 category. Sprint has the only appreciable stockpile of that around 2.5GHz. So, Verizon and AT&T have both chosen to begin their 5G rollouts entirely on millimeter-wave. Verizon started with small deployments in dense downtown areas, and then it moved on to indoor 5G for NFL stadiums. It had trouble covering all seating areas in these large structures, which can seat up to 80,000 people. The comparatively smaller NBA arenas are also proving to be an issue.
Verizon is adding 5G antennas to NBA arenas in Phoenix, San Francisco, and Denver, and it’s hoping to get 5G up and running in seven more by the end of the current season. Just because Verizon adds 5G to a stadium doesn’t mean the service will be available anywhere else in the city — it won’t even work in most parts of the stadium.
Your access to 5G in NBA arenas will, unfortunately, depend on where you’re sitting. 5G has limited range, and anything blocking your line-of-sight to the antenna will leave you on 4G. IThe NFL 5G rollout featured antennas mostly aimed at the “lower bowl” sections where the seats are more expensive. The NBA deployment might be the same, but Verizon isn’t offering specifics.
It will probably be a few years before 5G is widely available in the US, and that will require carriers to augment the short-range millimeter wave with LTE-like frequencies. That’s one of the reasons T-Mobile is so anxious to acquire Sprint.
- The 5G OnePlus 7 Pro Finally Launches in the US on Sprint
- Verizon Admits Your 5G Service Might Be More Like ‘Good 4G’
- The T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Finally Has Federal Approval