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Verizon's 5G network cannot cover an entire basketball arena either



  A giant Verizon 5G logo in a trade show hall.
Enlarge / A Verizon booth at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles in September 2018.

Verizon announced Friday that its 5G network is now available in three NBA arenas and is coming to seven more by the end of the 201

9-2020 basketball season.

But there is one big caveat, just as it is with Verizon's 5G coverage at NFL stadiums: Verizon 5G covers only some of the seating areas.

Verizon's announcement of 5G arenas on Friday did not mention this significant limit. But when Ars was contacted, Verizon said the 5G network does not cover the entire arena for any of these NBA facilities. "Only certain seating groups" in the NBA arenas have access to 5G, a Verizon spokesman said.

This is not surprising, given that Verizon's early 5G rollout relies heavily on millimeter wave signals that do not travel far and can easily be blocked by walls and other obstructions. But while NFL stadiums usually seat between 60,000 and 80,000 people, seating capacity in the NBA arenas is usually 17,000 to 21,000. Despite the huge difference in size, Verizon's 5G network is not yet able to cover all the seating areas of any of these facilities.

Phoenix, San Francisco and Denver

Verizon said 5G is recently available in the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix (home of the NBA's Phoenix Suns), Chase Center in San Francisco (home of the NBA's Golden State Warriors), and Pepsi Center in Denver (home of the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche). Verizon's announcement did not say what data rate participants can expect, but it promised that 5G will "improve the gaming experience for sports fans [and] providing greater bandwidth for concert goers, visitors or businesses working inside the venue."

Verizon also said that 5G coverage "is coming to Madison Square Garden" in New York City, home to the NBA's New York Knicks and the NHL's New York Rangers. Overall, Verizon said its "5G Ultra Wideband mobility service will be live in 10 venues by the end of the 2019-2020 season," but it did not name the rest of them. There are 29 NBA arenas and 32 NHL arenas, with some overlap between these lists.

It is not clear when or if Verizon 5G will be able to cover all the seating groups in a single major sports facility. Verizon boasts that the 5G is available in 13 NFL stadiums and will add more this season, but it has not said whether it expects to achieve full stadium coverage. 5G can work on all frequencies, so at least it should eventually roll out at the same frequencies used for 4G.

Just because Verizon adds 5G to a stadium or arena does not mean that 5G is available elsewhere in the city where the facility is located. "In some cities, the stadium will be the only place with the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service," Verizon said when it announced the NFL. Verizon offers 5G in parts of Denver and Phoenix that are not arena, but not yet in San Francisco.

Verizon released another 5G announcement today saying its 5G home service is coming to Chicago on October 24, the fifth city to receive it. The service will only be available "in parts of Windy City," Verizon said.

For mobile services, Verizon requires an additional $ 10 per month for 5G services, but includes it free "for a limited time" in certain unlimited plans. Verizon charges $ 70 a month for 5G home internet service, or $ 50 if you are also a mobile customer from Verizon. Verizon has said it plans to bring 5G home internet to every market where it distributes 5G mobile service. Not including stadium deployments, the Verizon 5G mobile is available so far in 10 cities and is expected to hit 20 more cities by the end of 2019.


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