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As 5G is the next-gen critical leap, it will no doubt play a major role in the coming months. Low-band 5G service has been readily available for some time. With T-Mobile and AT&T offering nationwide service and other carriers such as Verizon promising to follow suit.

You might think that all you require for the bump-up is a compatible phone but you would be mistaken. For a lot of service providers, As Eli Blumenthal has expressed in his write-up for cnet, you will also need to select a new plan. 

With 3 major US carriers prepping for the future bandwidth upgrade here is all the info you need to prep along with them.

Forms of 5G Supply

It is early days but there are already three types of wireless up for grab s. They are low-band, mid-band, and super-speed millimeter-wave. 

Low-band may sound less desirable out of the three 5G signals on offer but you shouldn’t judge too hastily. Although it is at the slower-end of the spectrum, it is the most widely available. As the foundation for all 5g networks, it provides decent coverage as a staple for 5G users. If you have experienced a 4G LTE signal connection then you will have a good comparison. 

The flashier high-frequency version dubbed the millimeter-wave is capable of speeds in excess of 1 gigabit per second. Sounds great, but in truth, it will likely be a long time before coverage is wide enough for the majority to access. At the moment it works at a short-range and if you are lucky enough to live within the radius of a high-speed connection tower, great, if not…eh.

It also can be problematic without direct, unimpeded airways. That means it doesn’t work well indoors and struggles if anything is in the way of transmission. 

As you can probably guess, mid-band is aptly named to bridge the gap. It functions at a higher speed than the low-band option and has better coverage presently than millimeter-wave 5G. Importantly, it is less finickity and copes with working indoors, covering the sweet spot between the two.

This means mid-band will likely be a popular choice. It is already available on T-Mobile who managed to secure a merger with Sprint. As it’s looking to be a valuable part of the spectrum AT&T and Verizon are looking to actively bid. They are in discussion with the Federal Communications Commission auction.

5G on AT&T

If you are with AT&T you’ll have to look into their Unlimited Starter, Unlimited Extra, and Unlimited Elite plans. Each of these will be operating on a 5G network providing your phone is compatible. Each plan also offers unlimited talk, text, and data in the US, Mexico, and Canada.

  • The Starter price package is $140 a month for four lines equating to $35 a line. You should note that this doesn’t include any mobile hotspot activity and that your data may be at low-speed if there is network congestion.
  • The Extra package gives you a little more. It includes 50GB of high-speed use before any limiting and you can hotspot 15GB. It cost just $5 per line more totaling $160 a month. When your high-speed data allowance is reached, you will find yourself at the mercy of excruciating 2G speeds.
  • AT&T’s Elite plan will set you back a little more ($200 monthly) but gives you a whopping 100GB of data before speed limitations set-in. You get four lines that work out at $50 a line. You can use your mobile to hotspot 30 GB before it gets slowed. You can stream in high-def and it even comes with free HBO Max. Not bad for a top-tier package.

At present, it accesses low-band 5G networking and is available nationally. You can also access millimeter-wave signals because it supports 5g plus. That is if you are within one of the 35 currently broadcasting it.

Older AT&T plans won’t provide 5G connectivity. They operate on 4G LTE but confusingly, AT&T has named their 4G LTE connection 5G E. 

As Eli has pointed out this is not the real deal so don’t be fooled into thinking it is running 5G just because your phone is capable of supporting it.

AT&T 5G

Plan 5G included? Price (1 line) Price (4 lines) Hotspot Perks
Unlimited Starter Yes $65 $140 N/A Unlimited in Mexico and Canada
Unlimited Extra Yes $75 $160 15 GB per month, per line 50 GB of high-speed data per line, unlimited in Mexico and Canada
Unlimited Elite Yes $85 $200 30 GB per month, per line 100 GB of high-speed data per line, free HBO Max, unlimited in Mexico and Canada

5G for All from T-Mobile

Far less complicated to wrap your head around, any plan from T-mobile can operate over 5G. This includes Sprint users. Basically, if your phone is compatible then you are covered. This is non-dependant on whether you have an unlimited package or monthly data allotments. There are a lot of plans to choose from though, so bear with us while we explain.

First-off, T-Mobile has recently provided a new Essential plan that has seen a price reduction.  You can pay $100 a month for four lines, which is just $25 a line and great value for money. It gives customers unlimited talk, text, and data and you can hotspot. However, the hot-spotting data has a 3G speed cap operating at an average of 512Kbps. So it might not be what you are looking for.

The taxes and fees aren’t included in the attractive hundred-dollar price-tag. It doesn’t provide international data unless you are in Mexico or Canada. The deal is subject to having a minimum of four lines in place and restricted to a maximum of six. You also don’t get Netflix or HD streaming.

The next step-up is their regular Essentials plan. In essence, it is identical but allows for as many or as few lines as you want. Each priced at $30 per month.

T-mobile also offers a Magenta package that will get you four lines for $140. This works out the same fee as the Essential plan at $35 a line but includes taxes and fees. Each line has 3GB of 4G LTE hotspot data and comes with the perks of a basic Netflix subscription or Quibi. It also provides international data coverage.

If you fancy streaming in HD and a lot more hot-spotting data then you may want to opt for their top-of-the-line Magenta Plus plan. For an extra $30 ($170 per month), you can use 20GB of 4G LTE hotspot data per line. The International data on offer is also a little faster and you can stream in HD. This plan comes with a standard Netflix or Quibi account rather than a basic subscription.

As we previously hinted T-Mobile is a little further ahead with their 5G than other competitors. They were first to the finish post with regards to nationwide low-band coverage 5G and already cover 250 million people. AT&T is just behind at around 200 million. 

Now, their Sprint merger has secured them 2.5GHz mid-band signal. So, T-mobile is busy deploying mid-band 5G across the country and upgrading its network.

To date, they operate 5G millimeter-wave connectivity in six cities but again have big plans to expand.

T-MOBILE 5G

Plan 5G included? Price (1 line) Price (4 lines) Hotspot Perks
Essentials (promo) Yes N/A $100 Unlimited at “3G speeds” Talk, text and 2G data in Canada and Mexico; unlimited texting overseas.
Essentials (regular) Yes $60 $120 Unlimited at “3G speeds” Talk, text and 2G data in Canada and Mexico; unlimited texting overseas.
Magenta Yes $70 $140 3GB of high-speed data per month, per line, then unlimited at “max 3G speeds” Taxes and fees included; free Netflix Basic or Quibi subscription (two lines minimum); international talk, text and data included; 5GB of high-speed data in Mexico and Canada,
Magenta Plus Yes $85 $170 20GB of high-speed data per month, per line then unlimited at “max 3G speeds” Taxes and fees included; free Netflix Standard or Quibi subscription (two lines minimum); international talk, text and data included with data twice as fast as Magenta; HD streaming over cellular; 5GB of high-speed data in Mexico and Canada.

Future 5G from Verizon

So, T-Mobile offers 5G connection across the board and AT&T are limiting it to their new plans. Verizon is somewhere in-between. This is largely due to being relatively new to the 5G scene.

They have announced once their 5G plan is launched later in the year they intend to make it available with all their plan packages. Much like T-mobile, you will be able to tap into their nationwide low-band network.

When it comes to lightning-fast millimeter-wave bandwidths, Verizon intends to save it for its top-of-the-range unlimited plans. They currently offer 3 named Do More, Get More, and Play More. 

Something Verizon offers that is a little different from its competition is their Mix and Match plan options. This means you don’t need to have the same plan on all lines. You can choose them individually instead. So if one person loves to stream and another person likes to text you’re in luck.

In the interest of consistency for comparison, we will look at each package with its price and specs for four lines as we did for t-mobile and At&T.

The Start plan will provide low-band 5G connectivity and cost you $140 per month($35 per line). This plan lacks hotspot allowance and you will be restricted to low-speed data capping outside of the US.

Next in line is their Play More plan. It costs about $40 more, offers low-band and high-speed 5G. It has HD streaming with a cellular connection. It provides unlimited talk, text, and data. You get 50GB of high-speed 4G LTE data as well as 15GB for each line to hot-spot with. It costs $180 for four lines and comes with a free Disney Bundle subscription. This lets you access Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, and Hulu. Again your data will be capped at low-speed in Canada and Mexico.

For the same price ($180 per month) they offer their Do More plan. It provides the same deal as the Play More plan but has a half-price monthly service charge for connecting tablets or SmartWatches. The only major difference is you forgo the Disney Bundle subscription in its place.

Verizon’s Get More plan essentially combines the perks of the Play More and Do More packages. Four lines will cost you a hefty $220 a month but you get 30GB per line for hot-spotting. It includes the 50% discount service charge for connected devices that the Do More provides. You won’t miss out on the Disney Bundle and you also get a bonus Apple Music subscription thrown in.

The carrier’s previous Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited plans will also be able to access both 5G spectrums if your mobile is equipped.

VERIZON 5G

Plan 5G included? Price (1 line) Price (4 lines) Hotspot Perks
Start Unlimited Yes, but just low-band $70 $140 N/A Talk, text and data at 2G speeds in Mexico and Canada
Play More Unlimited Yes $80 $180 15GB of high-speed data per line, per month then unlimited at slower speeds Access to faster millimeter-wave 5G network; 50GB data per line, per month of high-speed, 4G LTE data; HD video streaming; Talk, text and data at 2G speeds in Mexico and Canada; Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus included.
Do More Unlimited Yes $80 $180 15GB of high-speed, 4G LTE data per line, per month then unlimited at slower speeds Access to faster millimeter-wave 5G network; 50GB data per line, per month of high-speed, 4G LTE data; HD video streaming; Talk, text and data at 2G speeds in Mexico and Canada; 50% off the monthly service fee for a connected smartwatch, tablet or hotspot.
Get More Unlimited Yes $90 $220 30GB of high-speed data per line, per month then unlimited at slower speeds Access to faster millimeter-wave 5G network; 50GB per line, per month of high-speed, 4G LTE data; HD video streaming; Talk, text and data at 2G speeds in Mexico and Canada; 50% off monthly service fee for connected tablet/hotspot/smartwatch; free subscription to Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus; free subscription to Apple Music
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