Verizon Rolls Out 5G Wireless Network Ahead Of Schedule In Chicago, Minneapolis

Verizon Communications Inc. VZ said Wednesday morning it turned on its 5G Ultra Wideband Network a week earlier than previously planned.

What Happened

Verizon said in a press release that select areas of Minneapolis and Chicago have access to a commercial 5G network, which offers speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

Consumers need to have a 5G-enabled phone, such as the Motorola z3 smartphone that Verizon sells.

Why It's Important

"Verizon customers will be the first in the world to have the power of 5G in their hands," Verizon CEO and Chairman Hans Vestberg said in the press release.

"This is the latest in our string of 5G firsts," he said. "Verizon launched the first commercial broadband 5G service last October, Verizon 5G Home, and now we're lighting up our 5G Ultra Wideband network in Chicago and Minneapolis."

In a CNBC interview, Vestberg said the transition from 4G to 5G is a far from a "small evolution," but rather a "quantum leap." 

What's Next

Verizon also reaffirmed prior commitments to launch 5G coverage across more than 30 cities this year. 

AT&T Inc. T announced in December that it was the first U.S. company to offer a mobile 5G device over a commercial, standards-based mobile network in portions of 12 cities. 

The service requires the purchase of a mobile hot spot from AT&T. 

Rival wireless carriers like Sprint Corp S and T-Mobile Us Inc TMUS have similar plans to launch their own 5G network later on this year.

Verizon's stock spiked higher and traded around $59 per share at time of publication.

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Photo courtesy of Verizon.

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