Verizon’s early mobile 5G network launch positions it to become a leader in the 5G era (VZ)

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Verizon reached a milestone by launching its mobile 5G network in Chicago and Minneapolis a week earlier than expected; originally, the firm stated its mobile 5G network would be available on April 11.

What makes Verizon’s launch even more historic is that its customers are the first in the US to have access to a mobile 5G network with a smartphone. Verizon customers in these two cities can now access the network with a Motorola Moto z3 smartphone equipped with a Verizon-exclusive 5G moto mod attachment.

Here’s what it means: Verizon has beaten its US rivals in launching a 5G wireless service that can be accessed via smartphone, positioning the firm to become a leader in the 5G era.

The bigger picture: While the launch of a commercially usable live 5G network is a milestone, a small number of devices and restricted coverage areas are going to limit adoption for years.

Even if the Big Four US carriers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint — hit all of their goals by the end of 2019, 5G will still only be available in a select few markets. And, even if a customer lives in one of those select markets, they’ll need one of the few 5G-compatible phones that are expected to be available to access the network, which will come at a cost — consumers should “expect high prices, short battery life, heavy device weight, or outsize hardware,” according to Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

For example, Samsung’s first 5G smartphone is expected to cost over $1,200, significantly more than the $258 average selling price (ASP) of an Android smartphone. This will result in slow adoption of 5G devices and, ultimately, 5G plans among consumers.

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