CHICAGO — Chicago and Minneapolis are the first two cities in the U.S. with working 5G networks after Verizon unveiled its mobile network to the public Thursday.
“This is a source of civic pride for Chicago. We were the first in the world to launch commercial mobile 5G,” Verizon's Andy Choi said.
What's the difference? In short, 5G is high speed and low latency. Transitioning from 4G to 5G, explains Choi, is like adding more lanes to a road to prevent traffic.
"Moving from 4G to 5G means there is more space to move along the network, and at a faster pace," Choi said.
A download speed comparison between a 4G iPhone and the new 5G phone showed the newer network was 10 times faster, and the increased speeds open up a whole new world of possibilities.
"We’re looking at autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, smart surgeries, gaming; real-time gaming," Choi said.
Still, 5G is in its infancy and is not moving fast everywhere yet. Right now you’ll find it at Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, Willis Tower, Union Station, the West Loop and a few more locations.
You also have to have a 5G phone to benefit from the high-speed network, and it's probably not going to be cheap. The new Samsung Galaxy S10 is selling for four figures ($1,300).
Choi says if you’re a gamer, get ready for a lag-free experience. Downloading movies will be much faster too. A 30-minute Sesame Street episode downloaded from Amazon Prime in under 19 seconds.
"Those are some of the things that are really going to get people going and thinking, 'hey, maybe I did need this,"' Choi said.
Even if your fancy new phone is 5G ready, the city and third party apps are still catching up. And while 5G will deliver faster data, it only works at a shorter distance. So more cell sites will likely be installed in the city. One source says the networks need about five times more equipment as existing wireless networks do.
Verizon will launch 5G in 20 cities by the end of the year.