5G in Your Area (and Why You Should Care)

As 5G expands across the United States, many homes are now covered by 5G wireless service. Why does that matter? 5G has potentially incredible data speeds with lower latency (lag) than traditional wireless coverage like 4G. Voice calls made over 5G also tend to be clearer, especially in areas where 4G coverage was only applied to data and not to calls. Don't worry if you don't know what we're talking about. Simply enter your zip code below and we'll show you which provider offers the best coverage in your area, with our (unbiased, not-for-sale) suggestion for mobile carrier listed first.

5G cell service providers by zip code



 

Where can I get 5G, and from which cell company?

In the United States nearly all cell phone plans run at least partially of one of three 5G networks. Click the map below for interactive maps, more coverage details, and contact information

 

What is 5G, and how is it different?

Think about 5G like the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. But in this case the meteor is 5G, and the dinosaurs are traditional telecommunication and cable companies. 5G has the potential to revolutionize how we buy TV, phone, Internet, and mobile service while opening up new possibilities to the general population. 5G is more than just faster wireless service for your phone. It's potentially much, much faster. In fact, it has the potential to deliver a gigabit (1 Gbps) of data per second with much lower latency, or lag, than 4G/LTE technology today. 5G transmission rates for business or future residential use could reach as high as 10 Gbps for a single connection. A gigabit is more than enough to transmit home TV and internet wirelessly while also allowing an entire household to talk, stream, and play on the same connection.

Due to data caps and pricing we're not seeing a lot of people install 5G modems or using 5G instead of their traditional cable TV and internet service. At this point in time 5G is simply marketed as faster mobile service. Expect that to change and for competition to heat up rapidly as capacity is expanded and bandwidth begins to increase, especially in larger cities.

How Fast is 5G Today?

In our real-world testing, 5G is about twice as fast as 4G. Average download speeds range from 50-100 Mpbs (megabits per second) depending on city and provider. Average 5G download speeds in the real world right now are just under 80 Mpbs based on our tests. Despite most carriers delivering speeds 12x under 5G's potential, most people don't need a full gigabit on their phones. In fact, these speeds and the processing power required for an application requiring those speeds would probably heat a phone up pretty quickly, which isn't good for the longevity of the device.

The other component to speed, latency, is looking good. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms), or thousandths of a second. Average 5G latency is around 10ms, which is about 5 times faster than 4G. That's actually faster than the latency most people get through their home internet connection. Even the laggiest 5G in the US tends to beat the 4G average. So, while speeds continue to improve, the time you have to wait between clicks or videos on your phone will be lower on 5G.

Who Has the Best 5G, and When Can I Get 5G?

In the US, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T are all working to roll out more 5G. Verizon and T-Mobile are currently in the lead with more developed infrastructure than AT&T, but it depends on the market. Most large metros can expect some 5G, at least in urban centers, within the next year or so. Enter your zip code above to see where coverage might be available near you.

  • AT&T 5G: The best 5G coverage in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Indiana
  • Verizon 5G: The best 5G coverage throughout much of the south, half of the Midwest, and much of the northeast.
  • T-Mobile 5G: The best 5G coverage from Oregon to Kansas in a swath, with several states in the south and northeast as well.

Best cell phone provider by state

Where is 5G Available?

5G is naturally most common in large cities and metro areas, but there are also rural areas now enjoying the benefits of 5G. What's the delay, and why is it taking longer than the 4G rollout? It comes down to the science of cellular signals. 5G operates at a higher frequency, which is what allows it to send more data. Higher frequency means lower wavelengths. Lower wavelength results in a signal that doesn't travel as far. AM radio, for example, has such a low frequency and high wavelength that it can travel across continents without completely degrading. 5G is the opposite. It can send a lot more data, but you need to install a tower in every neighborhood in order for it to work. 5G needs a cell tower every 500 feet or so. 4G, by contrast, only needs a tower every 20-40 miles depending on terrain and use. The 5G rollout is expected to take longer due to the massive number of towers that need to be built.

5G coverage by city

The cities below have some of the best 5G coverage in the nation

 

5G coverage by county

At a county level, these are some of those with the most widespread 5G coverage:

 

5G coverage by zip and neighborhood

At Best Neighborhood we get detail down to the smallest areas. See some of the areas below for hyper-local coverage info:

 

Potential Future Benefits of 5G

The present-day benefit of 5G is simply faster mobile data speeds and better call quality. But in the future 5G may be revolutionary.

Increased Competition, Lower Prices

Most people have limited options when it comes to internet service, especially fast internet service. Part of the problem is that government regulations often allow for one cable and one DSL line running to a single home. The justification for these laws is that it prevents infrastructure from exploding and becoming unmanageable. Without any regulations, power lines could collapse from the weight, and there would be an unknown number of TV and phone lines running to any home. The unfortunate result is that cable and phone companies have either a duopoly or monopoly on Internet and (especially) TV service in any given market. Spectrum and Comcast, for example, will never compete for the same home, and Verizon and AT&T never compete for DSL or fiber to the same home. Ultimately that means large service providers can charge you whatever they think you will pay for service.

Customers like you benefit when many companies have to compete for your money. In a 5G world, there might be 4 or 5 companies that all want you to buy their TV/Internet service. Because they don't have to run lines to your house the cost to offer service will be lower, meaning they'll have even more room to compete on price or better service. Even existing land-based providers will be forced to lower prices in response to 5G competitors. 5G is very likely to lead to better service, lower prices, and more options.

We're speaking in a future tense here because 5G TV and home internet isn't really online yet. 5G towers are still not common. Providers are struggling just to keep up with cell phone traffic and will likely need additional fiber optic infrastructure to their cell towers to keep up with the demand for whole-home service.

Plan Flexibility

Some customers can already bundle their TV, Internet, and cell phone service, but only if they have the right carrier and live in the right area. AT&T, for example, does offer a TV product called U-verse, but it's not available to most people. And if you want a cell phone provider like T-Mobile, you don't have an option for T-Mobile TV, and there's no Internet provider you can bundle with. Long story short: you don't have a lot of options today for mixing or matching service, and most customers can't bundle their cell service even if they want to.

5G promises more simplicity or more flexibility depending on how much time and money you want to spend. If you want TV through AT&T and Internet through Verizon, that would suddenly be possible. And, if you are tired of paying your cable company and cell phone bill separately, there's suddenly an option to bundle it all up with your mobile provider.

New Entertainment Mediums

3D movies and virtual reality games exist, but they're still new. Many media companies and game makers are hesitant to start producing (very expensive) content that only a few people can enjoy. While hardware like Oculus Rift sells plenty of VR headsets, games are limited, and you're basically stuck next to your computer. So where does 5G fit into this? To play VR smoothly, you either need a lot of computing power or a ton of bandwidth (internet speed). So far, the custom hardware has had to do most of the work. That makes sense, because gigabit Internet connections are still rare. As a result, all current VR content is designed to be used in your home.

Part of what makes 5G so exciting is its potential for low latency (low lag). 5G unlocks the potential to use VR anywhere. At a potential 1-10 Gbps, developers might start leaning more towards charging users to use their supercomputers and then shipping the data to your device. Which device? Any of them. Including your phone. Augmented reality games suddenly seem realistic. Imagine running through the streets with a mobile phone and headset fighting off zombies. Games have already done a good job adapting to the environment. What if you could set your field of play anywhere, and experience a horror movie in a few rooms of your own house? All of these are far-distant entertainment options, but 5G is one technology that could make it possible.

Potential Downsides to 5G

High Initial Price

Packages that give greater access to 5G tend to cost more with mobile carriers. Because service is still rare 5G can be treated like a premium commodity, especially for unlimited data. Carriers also need to recover their research and development costs, plus the costs of upgrading their networks. Make no mistake about it – those upgrades will cost them billions, and they're going to look for every penny they can to recover costs.

Still, early adopters with money to spare will be happy to pay for superior service. Over time we expect the cost of 5G plans will fall dramatically as equipment becomes cheaper to make and carrier recover their network upgrade costs.

More Receivers or Worse Reception

5G runs at high frequencies, which makes it ideal for delivering a lot of data quickly. High frequencies also mean it's harder for the signal to travel very far, and it's not as good at passing through obstacles like walls, buildings, trees, etc. This is why 5G carriers needs more towers. Now imagine you're in an interior apartment, perhaps looking at a courtyard. It would be very hard for a 5G signal to penetrate an all-brick building to make it to your side of the hall. This means despite having reception to the building, excessive barriers may force your data speeds to use the legacy 4G network, which probably isn't going away any time soon. An alternative is to slap a receiver outside to act as a “booster,” much like a satellite dish running to a router, but much faster. ¬† For many, a receiver slapped on a window will probably work just fine. Depending on your home or building layout, 5G service inside might not be great. It's either that or go to the hassle of boosting the signal in your own home.

Why do most places is most cities show 5G coverage?

There is some controversy as to what should be classified as “5G.” The current standard in the United States does not require a specific technology, such as the higher-frequencies or transmission method. As a result, many companies realized they could simply upgrade their existing networks (commonly thought of as 4G) to pass the requirements of being called “5G.” Most metro areas technically have 5G coverage. It's up for debate whether the 5G throughout most of the United States claimed by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile is actually 5G, but technically it is. As there is no reporting requirement for high-band millimeter-wave 5G, there is no way for us to report on which areas have what some would call “true 5G” versus those that are running on low-band or medium-band frequencies similar to 4G LTE.

Most consumers will not notice the difference between these various types of 5G coverage, but power users may want to test actual download and upload speeds where they live and work before committing to a carrier.