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Verizon’s New Coverage Map Shows Massively Expanded 5G

erizon’s new map shows its ‘ultra wideband’ 5G in big cities and small towns across the US. Is your area covered?

By Sascha Segan

Verizon today updated its online coverage map with new “ultra wideband” C-Band 5G coverage, showing where it says more than 90 million Americans will be able to get the new system.

We tested Verizon’s C-Band last week and found the system doubled or tripled Verizon’s 4G speeds. In a best-case scenario, we saw speeds up to 700Mbps. Aside from making phones faster, Verizon intends to use the new airwaves to expand its $50/month wireless home internet offering. Wireless home internet won’t be available everywhere the map shows coverage, though, because it’s very dependent on available network capacity.

I’m not sure how trustworthy the map is to track coverage now, as opposed to where Verizon intends to have coverage soon. The map shows some places as covered with C-Band that my testing showed had no C-Band. For example, I tested in the NYC neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Rego Park last Wednesday—all of which should be covered by C-Band, according to Verizon’s map. But I did not find any C-Band there.

The map also shows complete C-Band coverage throughout Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. I found some C-Band coverage there on Friday, but not as much as the map shows.

Verizon tells me that coverage has indeed improved between last week and this week, although the company did not go into block-by-block details.

Other people seem to be having the same problem.

At this exact moment, I’ve sent all my network testing phones to Chicago so we can look at AT&T C-Band performance there. But I’ll continue to keep an eye on the situation.

Smaller Cities Get Love, Too

C-Band isn’t just for central cities, the map shows. Much of central Alabama and northwest South Carolina are covered. In Indiana, a solid block of coverage reaches from southwest of Indianapolis past Muncie, 70 miles away.

Dots and spackles of coverage hit small New York towns, such as Cooperstown and Montour Falls, that are hundreds of miles away from a major city. The areas around Harrison and Flippin, Arkansas, are both covered.

Several smaller cities in northern Arkansas get coverage.

Depending on how much you feel you can trust the crowdsourced CellMapper.net database, you can also figure out how far C-Band truly reaches from this map. A tower on Fairgrounds Rd. in Watkins Glen, New York, may reach almost 2 miles north, although there’s a lake involved, which can help bounce the signal. There are definitely new sites out there that aren’t in the CellMapper database, though. In Salow Corners, Ohio, CellMapper does not show sites that would explain Verizon’s stated coverage.

No C-Band in D.C. or Denver

The map shows the strict boundaries of the 46 “partial economic areas” (PEAs) where Verizon is allowed to install C-Band.

When coverage hits the borders of Maryland, it tapers off. Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, New Mexico, and Vermont are all entirely left out.

C-Band cuts off in Maryland because of federal restrictions.

Some of that is because the states don’t include any of the top 46 PEAs. Some of it is because Denver, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. were on a specific exclusion list where satellite companies are getting more time to clear the spectrum.

In these cases, Verizon can’t legally launch any coverage until 2024. These are all areas where T-Mobile and AT&T will have significant advantage as the year goes on. T-Mobile’s current 2.5GHz “ultra capacity” 5G and AT&T’s new 3.45GHz 5G, which it will be able to install later this year, are not under the same legal restrictions as C-Band.

AT&T also has C-Band in eight cities right now, but it has not updated its coverage map.

Airport Exclusion Zones Shown

The “exclusion zones” around major airports, which Verizon agreed to with the FAA, appear on the map, but not how I expected.

The exclusion zone around Chicago’s Midway Airport appears to be mostly to the east.

Looking at New York’s LaGuardia airport, Chicago’s Midway, and Dallas Love Field, all of the airport grounds themselves appear to be covered with 5G, and there are pockets excluded in some directions but not others. Those pockets don’t align with what I thought were the alignments of the runways.

Smaller airports often have no exclusion zones. At the Marion County Regional Airport in Flippin, Arkansas, the map shows consistent coverage in and around the airfield.

You can check Verizon’s coverage map on its website.

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

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