Verizon Announces First Mobile 5G Cities & Mobile Moto Module

Dan Jones
3/13/2019
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Verizon announced its first 5G "mobility cities" Wednesday morning, with a Motorola 5G add-on hardware module for phones coming in April, at an additional $10 a month for mobile 5G service with an existing 4G contract.

Verizon said that the 28GHz millimeter wave Motorola 5G Module can be pre-ordered now. The module snaps on the back of a Motorola z3 Play smartphone to support the standard 3GGP 5G New Radio (5G NR) mobile standard. The 5G Mod module will be available on April 11, the operator told us.

Two mobile 5G cities, Chicago and Minneapolis, will go live April 11. Verizon already has four "5G Home" fixed residential markets up in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, but these support Verizon's own 5GTF fixed specification, not the mobile standard. (See 5G in the USA: Going Mobile.)

Verizon won't name any other mobile cities yet (we asked!) but says more are "coming soon." Verizon has said that it will launch at least 30 mobile 5G cities this year.

Verizon's premium for 5G
Verizon will charge a $10 "unlimited 5G" premium for the new service, for customers with an existing unlimited 4G plans, with the first three months of 5G for free.

The existing Verizon "unlimited" plans start at $75 a month. Verizon's multiple "unlimited" plans limit the data rates when the network traffic gets congested on the $75 plan, the $85 plan offers a 20GB limit before the data rates get limited and the $95 plan offers a 75GB cap before it starts to limit data rates if the network is congested.

The Verizon plan is in contrast to the announced 5G strategy by T-Mobile. The operator said in February that it won't charge a premium for 5G over 4G. (See T-Mobile Won't Charge a Premium for 5G.)

Initial analyst reaction is unsurprised that Verizon is valuing its 5G at a premium. "There is no reason why they shouldn’t try to charge a premium for it at the outset," writes New Street Analyst Jonathan Chaplin in a note Wednesday. "The earliest adopters will likely be willing to pay more. The service will be available in parts of a handful of cities at launch; we think most of Verizon’s customers wouldn’t find the benefit worth the cost; but early adopters tend to be price insensitive."

Of course, early adopters of Verizon's 5G mobile 5G service will need both a Motorola z3 smartphone and the snap-on Motorola 5G module. Verizon is offering the module for $50 for a "limited time," Verizon says. It'll be $349.99 otherwise. (See Verizon's First 5G Mobile Device? It's a Snap!)

Verizon's CEO, Hans Vestberg, plans to be the first to launch Samsung 5G phones in the US in the first half of 2019. (See Verizon CEO Expects Standard 5G Phones First, '5G Home' CPE to Follow in 2019.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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