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AT&T and Verizon finally switch on their C-Band 5G networks

Verizon expects to hit over 1,700 cities this month, but AT&T's rollout is more limited.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA  - JANUARY 18: A United Airlines plane flies by a cellular tower as it takes off from San Francisco International Airport  on January 18, 2022 in San Francisco, California. Verizon and AT&T announced that they will proceed with plans to activate 5G cellular service across the nation on Wednesday with the exception of near airports and runways after the Federal Aviation Administration and major airlines warned that the signal could interfere with navigational systems on some planes and cause flight disruptions. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
Kris Holt
Kris Holt|@krisholt|January 19, 2022 1:29 PM

Verizon and AT&T have at last switched on their C-Band 5G services after a six-week delay. While the networks won't be available near many airports for the time being after the companies' tussle with the Federal Aviation Administration and airlines, people in some areas of the US will have access to the services starting today.

AT&T is taking a relatively cautious approach to its rollout. Its C-Band 5G services are live in "limited parts" of eight metro areas, including Detroit and Chicago as well as Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston in Texas. Folks in three regions in Florida — Jacksonville, Orlando and South Florida — can also use AT&T's C-Band network.

Verizon (Engadget's former parent company) says that 100 million more people will gain access to its 5G Ultra Wideband network this month in more than 1,700 cities, including C-Band coverage. So, most metro areas should have at least some C-Band 5G coverage from Verizon in the coming weeks.

The C-Band spectrum has more bandwidth than the low-band spectrum AT&T and Verizon used in their previous 5G rollouts. That should enable faster download and upload speeds than earlier iterations of 5G. Verizon claims its C-Band 5G is up to 10 times faster than 4G LTE, with download speeds that have exceeded 1 Gbps in some areas.

AT&T and Verizon initially planned to switch on C-Band 5G in December, but they pushed back the activation following concerns from the FAA and airlines. The companies said on Tuesday that, even though 40 other countries have enabled C-Band 5G without issue, they are voluntarily delaying the rollout near several airports. Earlier this month, the two said they'd create buffer zones around 50 airports.

AT&T and Verizon finally switch on their C-Band 5G networks