LG Wing, Google Pixel 5 Get a New Future With C-Band Access

PCMag
PCMag
Feb 2 · 3 min read

Both phones will get access to fast new 5G networks next year.

By Sascha Segan

The LG Wing soars on. The wildest phone of 2020 will get access to new C-band 5G frequencies that will make it run better and faster on Verizon in 2021 and 2022. The Google Pixel 5 also just got authorized to use these new airwaves, according to the FCC’s website.

A tipster alerted us to postings about both of these phones at the commission. The filings are a “class 2 permissive change,” which the government agency uses to authorize new radio abilities or frequency bands. In this case, the documents give LG and Google the green light to update software on the Wing and Pixel for the C-band.

US carriers just spent more than $80 billion licensing C-band frequencies, although we won’t know for a few weeks how much each carrier got. With carriers likely getting tranches of 100MHz or more, C-band offers far better speeds than “nationwide” 5G from Verizon and AT&T, but with longer range than Verizon’s speedy UWB 5G. C-band networks will likely begin to go online at the end of 2021 or early 2022.

The filings we saw specifically referred to the Verizon and AT&T version of the Wing (ZNFF100VM) and not the T-Mobile version. Analysts at Raymond James, cited by Light Reading, say Verizon was the biggest bidder for C-band airwaves, spending around $30 billion, while AT&T may have spent $20 billion. T-Mobile may have spent $11 billion, but it’s less dependent on C-band because it already has similar mid-band airwaves.

There is only one version of the Pixel 5 in the FCC’s database, and the change applies to that version. I didn’t see any changes filed for the Pixel 4a 5G.

Currently, the Samsung Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12 line are the only other phones we’ve seen with C-band support on the US market.

Is LG In, Or Is It Out?

LG’s update shows that the company has at least some ambitions in the US mobile market, a week after a leaked internal memo showed the CEO saying it might quit the smartphone business this year.

According to an earnings release, LG’s mobile division lost $750 million in 2020, but the company as a whole made “record-setting operating profit” of $2.85 billion, primarily driven by home appliances and OLED TVs. LG was still the №3 smartphone vendor in the US in the third quarter of 2020, according to Counterpoint Research, with a 13% market share.

Google does not break out Pixel sales revenue, but the company does not figure in the top 5 US vendors as per Counterpoint Research. According to Wave7 Research’s December sales report, the Pixel series was at 3% at Verizon stores in December, and below that at other carriers. Wave7 does not count direct sales by manufacturers, though.

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

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