But not everyone will be able to take advantage of these C-band 5G networks out of the gate. You’ll need three key things to access one: a newer smartphone model that supports 5G, a 5G-specific cellular plan and to be in an area with the new coverage.
AT&T and Verizon have a handful of devices that are compatible with their new C-band 5G networks, including the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models, the Samsung Galaxy S21 line and, soon, Google’s Pixel 6 phones. (For a full list of C-band compatible devices, visit AT&T and Verizon’s websites.)
But if you haven’t bought a new smartphone in the past two years, you most likely have a 3G or 4G phone.
It’s only a matter of time before most new phones come with built-in 5G support, as manufacturers and carriers will push customers toward it over other networks. (AT&T plans to shut down its 3G network next month, Verizon is shutting down its 3G network by the end of the year and T-Mobile will shut down Sprint’s 3G network by March 31.)
Do I need a new cellular plan?
If you own a 5G device, you’ll still need a 5G-specific plan to access the faster C-band network. Existing 5G subscribers can do so without an additional charge. Both AT&T and Verizon offer plans that start at $35 a month for each phone line.
Where are the C-band networks?
Even if you have a 5G-capable device and a 5G mobile plan you may not be able to access the new higher-speed 5G network.
Anyone with a 5G-compatible phone will be able to download the latest mobile operating system to gain access to the network. On AT&T’s network, anyone in a 5G+ market will see a “5G+” at the top of the device when the network is available.
A “5G UW” indicator will appear on the top right corner of the device when a 5G phone on one of the plans is detected on the network.