As at July 2019, mainly NSA networks are alive. Vodafone has launched 5G services in 3 European countries. 3 out of 4 main players launched 5G services in the USA. Two 5G networks are alive in the UK and in Switzerland.
Verizon 5G home service
Verizon announced it has launched 5G service using 28 and 39 GHz spectrum in selected neighbourhoods of four cities (Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento) in the USA on October 1st, 2018. Verizon 5G home service is a 5G fixed wireless access service delivering average speeds of 300 Mbps and peak speeds up to 1 Gbps with unlimited data usage, no data cap and no annual contract.
The 5G home plan is a data-only plan, which is subscribed separately from other Verizon plans. The service is free of charge for the first three months. After the promotion time, it will cost 50 USD per month for current Verizon subscribers and 70 USD per month for non-Verizon subscribers.
Equipment, installation and activation are free. A YouTube TV subscription is also given free of charge for the first three months and charged 40 USD/month later. Verizon is also offering a free Google Chromecast Ultra or Apple TV 4K device.
Verizon was quick to move to 5G. But the 5G Verizon Home service remains a fixed home service and not a true mobile service. Moreover, it is using a non-standardised technology: Verizon began testing 5G before the standard was approved.
AT&T 5G service
AT&T officially launched its mmWave 5G mobile hotspot service in parts of 12 US cities on December 21st, 2018. It lighted 7 additional cities in April 2019 boasting the 5G service to 19 cities (first 12 cities include: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, San Antonio, and Waco. The 7 additional cities include Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose).
The service is charged at 70 USD per month for 15 GB of data included and uses the 499 USD NetGear NightHawk 5G hotspot. The true mobile service will be launched when smartphones are available. AT&T plans to offer at least three 5G mobile devices by YE 2019.
Verizon 5G mobile service
Verizon launched its mmWave mobile 5G service in selected areas of Chicago and Minneapolis at first. 30 additional cities will be added by year end 2019. The service is charged at a 10 USD per month for true 400-600 Mbps current data throughputs and for 1 Gbps soon.
Verizon 5G customers can use the mid-range Motorola Z3 4G smartphone, sold at 240 USD and the 5G Moto Mod. The 5G Moto Mod enables the smartphone to receive the 5G signal; it is charged at 200 USD. Users can also buy the Samsung S10 5G smartphone that will be exclusive to Verizon to start. Competitors will offer it in the second half of the year.
T-Mobile Austria 5G mobile service
T-Mobile Austria activated 25 initial 5G bases stations located in 17 rural municipalities and in Innsbrück (Tyrol) and Villach (Carinthia) at the end of March 2019. The base stations consist in a 4G core and in macro antennas placed on top of pre-existing 4G equipment. The 5G service is available to friendly users. The company gave special 5G routers to the first users. The first 5G smartphones are expected by the end of 2019. A greater variety of models and larger numbers of 5G-enabled smartphones and tablet PCs will likely hit the market in 2020.
Swisscom 5G mobile service
In April 2019, Swisscom activated its 5G network across 102 locations in 54 towns, including Basel, Bern, Chur, Davos, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich. The MNO announced plans to offer 5G throughout Switzerland by the YE2019. The State expects coverage to reach 50% of population by 2024. At launch, two 5G devices are available: the OPPO Reno 5G and the LG V50 ThinQ respectively charged at the equivalent of 1,000 and 1,100 USD. The Samsung S10 5G will be available in July 2019 and priced at 1,280 USD; it can be ordered online in advance. The Huawei Mate X device will be proposed later in Q3 2019 for 2,500 USD. The service is available for an additional fee of 10 CHF (9 EUR).
Sunrise 5G network
In April 2019, Sunrise announced its 5G network is live in more than 150 cities across Switzerland. This is a fixed wireless access service using the 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands. First customers are free of charge as an introductory offer. PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones simply connect to the Sunrise Internet Box via Wi-Fi at home or in the office. Its mobile and business mobile users can upgrade to 5G for an additional CHF10 (EUR9) per month. 5G mobile data package with unlimited download and priced at CHF59 (EUR52) per month will also be made available for both business and residential subscribers. The company announced that customers will initially benefit from Internet speeds of several hundred Mbps. As the rollout continues, bandwidths will reach 1 Gbps. 5G coverage includes 152 cities, towns and villages across the country, with each location aiming for between 80% and 98% population coverage.
South Korea first 5G country
The three mobile players have jointly launched 5G commercial services nationwide on April 3rd, 2019. The South Korean Government has always imposed a direction on telecom and on mobile and gave as such a strong push to an early 5G launch.
The 5G coverage has grown very rapidly in South Korea. The number of base stations reached 85,000 according to a Government source and was multiplied by 8 in two months. 5G is available mainly in Seoul and 5 metropolitan cities and their suburbs. Seoul and its suburbs account for 90% of base stations.
Price plans differ slightly. SK Telecom and LGU+ propose limited data price plans and a large range of data from 8 to 300 GB passing through 150 and 250) of data included at similar prices for the same amount of data. KT is the only player to offer unlimited plans with no speed cap but different tethering caps. Light users can opt for 5G slim with 8 GB included.
The 1 million subscriber milestone was passed in June 2019.
EE 5G service
EE announced its 5G network will be live on May 30th, 2019. Customers will be proposed to use exclusive 5G-smartphones at launch, including the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, the OPPO Reno 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. EE 5G service will be available in 6 UK cities including London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester. Later in 2019, EE announced it will light up ten more cities (Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol) bringing the total number of 5G enabled base stations to 1,500 by YE 2019.
EE will not charge extra for the 5G service at launch. With the launch of 5G, EE is offering a new range of plans. Plans start from 10 GB at 54 GBP per month (61 EUR) and extend up to 120 GB priced at 74 GBP per month (84 EUR). EE also it will propose plans with swappable benefits for 4G and 5G customers, including access to the HD HDF version of the BT Sport App, worth 15 GBP per month (17 EUR) and to the Gamer’s data Pass, worth 7.99 GBP per month (9 EUR) from August 2019. All 5G users will be offered to subscribe to two Swappables out of 5. With the premium smart plan with 120 GB of data included, customers will get 3 Swappables (instead of 2) worth of 33.99 GBP per month (39 EUR). EE also disclosed 5G SIM-only plans. They offer Swappables benefits as well and data allowances starting at 20 GB, worth 32 GBP per month (36 EUR) to 100 GB worth 52 GBP per month (59 EUR).
EE plans to launch a 5G Home service in June 2019. EE also launches a 5G Wifi service with the HTC 5G Hub charged at 100 GBP (113 EUR) including 50 GB of monthly data for 50 GBP (57 EUR) per month or 100 GB of monthly data for 75 GPB (85 EUR).
Elisa 5G mobile service
Elisa launched its 5G mobile network in May 2019. The coverage is still limited to centers of 6 cities including Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and the University campuses, Tampere, Turku and Jyväskyla. Elisa is already offering 5G-based WiFi connectivity in some cafes in Turku.
The MNO already announced initial pricing and offering for consumers. It offers an unlimited data price plan at 44.90 EUR per month for a speed of 1 Gpbs and at 39.90 EUR (34.90 EUR for the first year) for a speed of 600 Mbps. The Huawei 5G CPE Pro Router is the only one available so far. It is charged at 899 EUR. The HTC router will be available soon at 819 EUR. OnePLus and ZTE 5G smartphones will be proposed by the end of June 2019.
Vodafone has become the second UK mobile operator to turn on its 5G network after EE commercial launch in May 30.
At launch, the service was live in seven UK cities: Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. Mid-of July 2019, it announced coverage in eight new cities. 5G is now available in Birkenhead, Bolton, Gatwick, Lancaster, Newbury, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton.
The mobile carrier plans to further expand its 5G coverage in Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton and Warrington by year-end 2019.
At launch, Vodafone was offering unlimited data on mobile three speed-tiered data plans. Pricing is then scaled on speed delivered rather than volume of data used. The Unlimited Lite plan runs at 2Mbps and costs 23 GBP (25.63 EUR) a month. The Unlimited offers speeds at 10Mbps and costs 26 GBP (28.97 EUR) a month. Finally, the Unlimited Max runs at the fastest speed possible by the network and the device, and costs 30 GBP (33.43 EUR) a month.
It initially offered the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G as supporting devices.
US operator Sprint claimed to have the largest initial 5G footprint in the country, as it officially launched its 2.5 GHz 5G network in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City and made available its first 5G-compatible handsets at the end of May 2019. It also announced plans to turn on 5G in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, DC later in 2019, covering around 2,180 square miles and 11.5 million people across all 9 market areas.
Unlike rival 5G networks from AT&T and Verizon which use mmWave spectrum, Sprint’s iteration runs on the 2.5GHz mid-band frequency. The company uses 64T64R 5G Massive MIMO radios from Ericsson. The radios support split-mode, enabling Sprint to simultaneously deliver LTE Advanced and 5G NR service. They are deployed on its existing 4G cell sites, providing a nearly identical footprint for both 2.5 GHz LTE and 5G NR coverage.
For USD 80 per month, Sprint’s Unlimited Premium tariff gave customers access to the 5G network at launch. The service was initially available on two devices, the LG V50 ThinQ and the HTC 5G Hub. Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G will be available in the coming months.
Australia’s largest network operator Telstra launched its 5G service in May 2019, as it switched on over 200 5G sites since August 2018. These cover 10 cities including parts of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Launceston, Toowoomba, and the Gold Coast. It intended to launch 5G in 25 more cities across the next 12 months, including all major regional cities in Australia.
It finally commercially pre-launched 5G services in June 2019. Telstra’s first consumer ready 5G devices were the HTC 5G Hub hotspot, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. and the Oppo Reno 5G. The company charged an extra AUD 15 per month for 5G connectivity after the trial at the end of June 2019.
The operator acquired 3.6GHz spectrum for AUD 386 million (EUR 240 million), giving it 60MHz of contiguous 5G spectrum in all major capital cities and between 50MHz and 80MHz in regional areas.
The Italian carrier Vodafone announced the launch of commercial 5G services in five cities across the country in June 2019. The service is available in Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna and Naples, with around 45 to 50 cities to follow in 2019, rising to 100 by 2021. The company used equipment from Nokia and Huawei for the deployment of commercial 5G.
At launch, three 5G smartphones were available: the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
At launch, customers were able to access the 5G network at no extra cost on Vodafone’s RED Unlimited Smart, RED Unlimited Black, Shake it Easy and Vodafone One Pro. Users on other tariffs were charged an additional EUR 5 per month for the 5G service. Business users on “Black” plans were offered 5G free of charge and those on ‘Red’ tariffs had to pay an additional EUR 5 per month.
Vodafone acquired 5G spectrum in 2018 in the three pioneer bands. It bought 80 MHz in the 3700 MHz frequencies for 1,685 million EUR, 2×10 MHz FDD in the 700 MHz band for 683 million EUR and 200 MHz in the 26 GHz band for 33 million EUR. Licenses in the 3700 MHz and the 26 GHz frequencies are valid 19 years starting from January 1st, 2019 while the 700 MHz license will last 15.5 years from July 2022.
In February 2019, the active 5G network sharing deal between Vodafone and Telecom Italia 22,000 cumulated sites was publicly disclosed. It comes after a passive network sharing agreement on 10,000 sites. The deal was designed to support a faster 5G deployment over larger geographic areas excluding urban areas, at lower costs.
Vodafone Spain launched commercial 5G services on June 15. The network was switched on in 15 cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Vitoria, San Sebastian, La Coruna, Vigo, Gijon, Pamplona, Logrono and Santander.
Customers with unlimited data plans can use the 5G service without paying additional fees and they could experience download speeds of up to 1Gbps, reaching up to 2Gbps by the end of the year. The company is offering three 5G-capable smartphones: The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and the My MIX 3 5G from Xiaomi.
The network is using the 3.7 GHz band. In July 2018, Vodafone bid 198.1 million EUR for eighteen 5MHz blocks of spectrum in Spain’s 5G auction. The service is reaching approximately 50% coverage in each of the 15 cities. Service availability will be expanded both in coverage and in number of cities throughout the year.
Telecom Italia (TIM) launched commercial 5G services in Italy after the activation of its 5G network in parts of Rome and Turin on June 24, 2019. Vodafone switched on its 5G network in the same two cities and in the Milan metropolitan area, Bologna and Naples on June 16. Earlier this year, Tim and Vodafone agreed to share the cost of rolling out new 5G infrastructure throughout Italy.
At launch, TIM offered three new dedicated 5G-ready plans. TIM Advance 4.5G was charged at 19.99 EUR per month and came with unlimited calls and SMS plus 40GN of data at speeds of up to 700Mbps. TIM Advance 5G was charged at 29.99 EUR per month and came with unlimited calls and SMS plus 50GB of data at speeds of up to 2Gbps. Finally, TIM Advance 5G Top plan was charged at 49.99 EUR for unlimited calls and SMS plus 100GB of data at speeds of up to 2GBps. Customers on existing plans could sign up to a “5G ON” option at a cost of EUR 10 per month, with the first month free.
Two 5G-capable smartphones are being offered by the company at launch: The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the Xiaomi MIX 3 5G from Xiaomi. The Oppo Reno 5G will follow shortly.
Vodafone launched commercial 5G services in Germany on July 16, 2019. The company switched on 25 antenna sites in 20 towns and cities including Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Dortmund and Munich.
Company customers with existing Vodafone contracts could subscribe to 5G plans for an additional 5 euros per month. They were able to access 5G plans starting at 14.99 euros per month and unlimited 5G data plans at 80 euros per month.
Vodafone offered two smartphones that could use the new network: The Huawei Mate 20 X 5G and the Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G. The Gigacube 5G home router from Huawei will also be available.
In August 2019, 50 stations will be activated covering more cities like Berlin, Dresden and Frankfurt. Vodafone’s 5G network will cover 25 cities, 25 municipalities and 10 industrial parks by the end of 2019. It will reach 10 million users by the end of 2020, and 20 million by the end of 2021, the company said.