Verizon 5G: Everything you need to know

Verizon check mark on wood
(Image credit: Verizon)

The Verizon 5G network infrastructure has continued to grow and evolve since its introduction, starting with the super-fast mmWave network before moving on to the slower, but much more practical low-band nationwide solution. The most significant evolution for the Verizon 5G network came with the C-band in early 2022. 

The C-band spectrum now makes up the most exciting portion of Verizon's network, with rapid progress in deployment as well as a few small victories that have allowed the carrier to increase the amount of spectrum used earlier than planned. Grouped under the 'Ultra Wideband' name first used for mmWave, Verizon's tests have shown speeds of up to 1.4Gbps on the C-band with a 100MHz deployment.

As of August 2023, Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband now covers more than 222 million people across the United States. If the carrier manages to keep pace, it should be able to provide some real competition for T-Mobile's mid-band network in the next few years.

Where does Verizon have 5G coverage?

If you have a smartphone supporting Verizon's nationwide 5G network and you live in a big city, there's a good chance you're covered. This network has coverage in over 2,700 cities but since the speeds aren't that much faster than what they're with LTE, most people aren't missing out on much. Compared to 5G coverage from T-Mobile, it's still lacking but laying the groundwork for Verizon's long-term 5G ambitions. This nationwide 5G network shares its spectrum with the carrier's LTE network, with the tower(s) allocating spectrum as needed based on demand.

Verizon's most significant progress in 5G has come from Ultra Wideband; luckily for most people, it's coming from C-band, not mmWave.

To see if you covered, check out Verizon's 5G coverage map.

Ultra Wideband 5G

C-Band spectrum refers to a chunk of sub-6GHz spectrum that first became partially available in late 2021, with the rest opening up over the following year. This 3.7GHz to 3.98GHz spectrum allows Verizon to deliver speeds similar to those on T-Mobile's Ultra Capacity 5G network, using a different chunk of mid-band spectrum.

Verizon initially had to launch a C-band with 60MHz bandwidth while some industries that previously used the spectrum cleared the way. Verizon announced that it had started to deploy 100MHz C-band 5G in some areas, thanks to deals with satellite providers, ahead of the planned December 2023 availability. This has allowed for speeds up to 1.4Gbps in Verizon's testing close to the towers, with 500Mbps possible further away. In August 2023, the carrier announced it had access to the remainder of its allotted spectrum ahead of schedule.

In the coming years, Verizon will have access to 140MHz to 200MHz spectrum across the country as more spectrum becomes available. Verizon's C-band network is poised to become the backbone of its nationwide coverage, and the carrier is well on its way to making fast nationwide 5G access a reality.

verizon 5g coverage map as on january 2024

(Image credit: Verizon)

Verizon's mmWave network has also continued to improve, with the carrier adding new cities continuously. Services like 5G Home are helping people make use of all of mmWave's speeds and have become a great alternative to cable internet. This spectrum is above 24GHz and offers huge open chunks, so it can support many simultaneous connections than LTE or even nationwide 5G can.

Verizon's 5G Home internet service is also available to many, using the carrier's Ultra Wideband network to deliver unlimited fixed home internet. Using a modem mounted on or near a window, this network can deliver speeds near or exceeding what is offered by cable competitors, especially with uploads. And unlike many cable providers, it's completely unlimited. That means you can stream, game, and download without worrying about exceeding your limit. It can be a great option for streamers and cord-cutters who want the best quality video.

Verizon 5G Home has two plans available, starting at $35 per month and $45 per month (both with autopay). If you're a Verizon Wireless customer using one of the unlimited plans, you can get internet access for as low as $25 per month. The service comes with unlimited data and as much speed as the network can deliver, and you even get a free router included. The cheaper plan comes has a price guarantee of two years, while the more expensive option extends it to three years.

Which devices should I get to be 5G ready?

Holding the hazel Google Pixel 7 Pro

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

For the best experience on Verizon's 5G network, you'll want a device with support for all of Verizon's 5G bands. These bands include n5 and n66 for nationwide 5G, n77 for C-band, and bands n260 and n261 for mmWave. While many of the best Android phones support nationwide 5G, if you want to make the most of the Verizon network, you want a phone with C-band support.

If you're looking to get some work done, Verizon has a couple of hotspots that can access its network. The Inseego MiFi X Pro 5G UW Hotspot supports all of Verizon's 5G network, so you can get as much speed as possible.

Which plan do I need for access?

All Verizon plans have access to the nationwide 5G network for no extra cost. If you have a phone that supports the network, you'll be able to access it without changing your plan or paying any extra. Still, opting for one of the best cell phone plans with plenty of premium data will help you get the most out of your 5G phone.

Currently, Ultra Wideband is included with Verizon's Unlimited Plus and Unlimited Ultimate plans, which also come with 30GB and 60GB of premium mobile hotspot data, respectively. Both unlimited plans can also be had with a variety of bundled streaming services such as Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Max (with ads), as well as Apple One.

The starter Unlimited Welcome plan only has access to the nationwide 5G network, and it doesn't come with any premium data or hotspot data and has no streaming perks either. If you're looking for just the basics, it is a good place to start though you won't be making the most of the 5G network.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Verizon's unlimited 5G plans
Header Cell - Column 0 Unlimited WelcomeUnlimited PlusUnlimited Ultimate
Unlimited Premium dataNoYesYes
5G accessNationwideNationwide and Ultra WidebandNationwide and Ultra Wideband
LTE/Nationwide 5G hotspotNone30GB60GB
Talk and textUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
LTE/nationwide 5G videoUp to 480p (SD)Up to 720p (HD)Up to 1080p (Full HD)
Mexico and CanadaTalk, text, and dataTalk, text, and dataTalk, text, and data
Apple OneN/AN/AAvailable
Disney+, Hulu, ESPN +N/AAvailableN/A
Netflix, Max (with Ads)N/AAvailableN/A
Home InternetAs low as $40/monthAs low as $25/monthAs low as $25/month

Is 5G worth it for most people?

If you've purchased a new phone in the last couple of years, there's a good chance it supports 5G. While many people would have been fine with the speeds offered by the best LTE networks, there was a limit to how much the networks could support, and with usage increasing, the networks needed to evolve to support more data.

If you're happy with your non-5G device, 5G still isn't the reason to upgrade. There's a good chance you'll be able to get by completely fine on the older LTE network until you're ready to upgrade for another reason. If you are ready to upgrade, though, your next phone should really support 5G, especially as the best Android phones, and even many affordable options (e.g. Google Pixel 7a) support 5G.

Samuel Contreras

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.

With contributions from