WASHINGTON — The era of 5G technology is officially here.
Verizon has begun to activate its new home Internet service that runs atop its next-generation 5G wireless network, the company said Monday.
The new service, 5G Home, was switched on in select parts of four cities — Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento — advertising download speeds of about 300 Mbps. It marks the first commercial use of a 5G network anywhere in the world, according to the company.
The service costs $70 a month, or $50 a month when combined with a $30 Verizon cellphone plan.
Unlike traditional residential Internet, which comes into your home by a fixed wire, Verizon’s new service works by sending Web content over a mobile data connection to a wireless router in your home. It takes advantage of newly unlocked airwaves that can support large amounts of data transfers at high speeds and low lag.
The company claims that 5G technology, once it becomes available on smartphones, could lead to mobile data downloads that are 20 times faster than its predecessor 4G LTE, allowing users to download high-definition videos in seconds. Other industry groups predict speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps or more.
But while 5G could help speed up your everyday mobile data experience, industry officials say its true benefits have to do with facilitating entirely new technologies such as self-driving cars, remote medicine, and other applications that current mobile data standards can’t support.
Verizon’s announcement comes amid a push by federal policymakers to speed the deployment of 5G technology.
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted to impose new requirements on city governments that will force them to approve 5G cell sites more quickly. The new rule also limits the amount of money cities can charge for processing requests from companies such as AT&T and Verizon to use public utility poles and other rights of way.
Supporters of the proposal said the new policies will accelerate the rollout of 5G, and benefit rural areas. But critics said the proposal would limit local autonomy and undercut public services in some cities.
The White House also joined in the effort, gathering business leaders and government officials in a meeting on Friday to discuss the potential of 5G technology and the benefits of private network investment. The event followed a controversy earlier this year in which a leaked proposal by national security staff members suggested that the Trump administration build a government-run 5G network.
AT&T has said it plans to launch 5G this year for mobile devices — not home Internet — in 12 cities, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and New Orleans.
And Sprint and T-Mobile have pledged to spend $40 billion building their own 5G wireless network should the government approve their $26 billion merger.