Verizon has made it clear that only their premium customers will have access to high-speed 5G, with lower tiers stuck on their slow nationwide 5G network.
Verizon recently bid $45.4 billion on mid-range spectrum at the FCC’s auction. Mid-band spectrum is considered the sweet spot for 5G range and performance. Until Verizon finishes rolling out the spectrum it bid on, the company is stuck offering high-speed mmWave and low-band nationwide 5G. The mmWave 5G is exceptionally fast, but has extremely limited range and availability. Verizon’s nationwide 5G network is so slow that experts recommend turning it off — the company’s 4G is much faster.
Unfortunately for Verizon customers, only those on one of its upper-tier premium plans will be able to access its faster 5G networks, both the fastest mmWave and the new mid-band spectrum the company will soon deploy. Customers on metered plans or the company’s Start Unlimited basic plan will be limited to the company’s nationwide 5G network.
Much of the reason Verizon’s low-band network is so slow is because it uses Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). Because Verizon’s low-band spectrum is tied up with its 4G network, the company didn’t have enough spectrum to roll out a dedicated low-band network. As a result, Verizon had to resort to DSS to allow towers to switch back and forth between 4G and 5G, depending on what device is connected. Because the company has to share its spectrum between the two protocols, the nationwide 5G is essentially crippled, slower than its 4G.
For Verizon customers, this means they will have to pay for a premium plan in order to have any meaningful access to 5G. In contrast, T-Mobile has been praised for its 5G plans, providing 5G on all of its Magenta plans and even eliminating any throttling on its Magenta MAX.