Smartphone networks are constantly evolving: adding more capacity, expanding to new areas and generally trying to get a leg up on the competition. But while improvements are always being made, every few years we see a massive shift as the industry moves to the latest technology. It has been around eight years since we saw 3G start to give way to 4G, and right now we are witnessing the early days of the move from 4G to 5G.
To take advantage of 5G, you obviously need more than just a 5G smartphone – you need to connect to a 5G network. How can you make sure you are ready to do so? We look at the availability of 5G in the US: where it is now, where it will come next, and how to get it.
The Slow Road to 5G Availability
Considering the physical size of the United States, and the mountains with existing infrastructure in place, there is no small company to upgrade the country's mobile network for 5G. And while all carriers are eager to demonstrate high-speed 5G availability, in fact access to 5G has been plagued by regulations, misrepresentations and half-truths.
Some of it stems from confusion and ambiguity over what counts as "5G," a situation particularly exploited by AT&T and its 5G Evolution scheme. And to be fair, there are many moving parts to keep track of, like what frequency bands a particular carrier is using ̵
But most of all, we're just waiting for the carriers to turn 5G on, and it's a slow process, market by market. As we move toward more or less nationwide coverage, we keep track of the four major networks and their efforts to deliver 5G. Where coverage is currently available, we've listed it – but keep in mind that access can be very, very tight at the moment, and some cities see no more than a few isolated blocks of 5G reception.
Where available, we have also listed the markets that are set to receive 5G "soon." Depending on the carrier, it may be in a few months, or maybe in a year or more, but all these cities are on the road maps. There may also be more markets in the works than just the ones shown below, but these are the ones we have seen published.
5G coverage for all four carriers should be updated from the time of publication. We will check in again with this list every couple of weeks to update it with new listings like 5G sweep across the nation.