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Verizon flips the switch on 5G service in Cincinnati

Some customers thrilled, but others have concerns
Posted at 6:10 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 18:50:12-04

The new cell towers on top of Great American Ball Park have just gone live, which means that Cincinnati finally has 5G Ultra Wide Band cell service, the 34th US city to see the rollout.

Verizon on Thursday morning flipped the switch on 5G cell service in 10 neighborhoods, including Downtown, OTR, Mt. Adams, Clifton/Corryville, Walnut Hills, and Newport, Bellevue, and Dayton, Kentucky.

Verizon spokeswoman Liz Maly told WCPO, "You can watch 4K videos, you can download videos and episodes that used to take minutes in seconds."

If your phone accepts it, she said, "you will notice in the upper righthand corner it says 5GUWB. UWB stands for Ultra Wide Band."

5G is currently available on 7 phones, most of them from Samsung and LG. It is not yet available on any Apple iPhones.

8 times faster than 4G LTE

We did a speed comparison on two Android phones on Joe Nuxhall Way outside Great American Ball Park. The 4G phone showed 160 megabytes per second, while the the new 5G phone was 8 times faster at just over 1,200 megabytes.

The 5G rollout has been controversial, however. The main reason is that unlike 4G LTE, 5G requires lots of mini towers on street corners, in parking lots on office buildings, even in front of apartment buildings.

A year and a half ago, homeowner Monique Maisenhalter and other Greenhills residents launched a petition drive to try to keep the towers off their streets. "Some say it will be a tower every 3 to 10 houses," she said.

But they and other groups have found it very tough to fight the FCC, which is fast-tracking the 5G rollout.

And surveys show most phone customers, like Downtown worker Laquan Cunningham, want the speedier service.

"I mean that kind of speed, that's great," he said.

Verizon says it is currently the only carrier with true wide band 5G in Cincinnati.

T-Mobile already offers 5G service across the entire Cincinnati region, but it is considered "low band" 5G, which is only about 20% faster than 4GLTE. It does not provide the same high speed, but also does not require mini towers every few blocks.

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