Both AT&T and Verizon began rolling out a new 5G version on Wednesday. And getting access via C-band doesn’t require getting a new iPhone. If your iOS device supports 5G, it can use the new version.
The same goes for iPad. If it has built-in 5G, it supports C-band.
AT&T’s and Verizon’s ‘goldilocks’ 5G premieres
5G can be offered at a variety of radio frequencies. Until now, Verizon and AT&T have concentrated their efforts on mmWave, which enables the quickest transfers but is also short range. Now they are adding C-band, which isn’t as fast as mmWave but covers a wider area.
Verizon says its service will be up to 10 times faster than 4G LTE. It’s dubbed the service Ultra Wideband, and devices that are connected to it show “5G UW” in their wireless status bar. AT&T calls its iteration 5G+, and devices connected to it have “5G+” in their wireless status bar.
If these are already familiar, it’s because both carriers use the same names and symbols for their mmWave networks. Which means you won‘t be able to tell the difference.
C-band is widespread
The two carriers launched C-band 5G on Wednesday, but one is ahead of the game. Verizon promises, “more than 100 million people in 1,700-plus cities around the nation will have access.”
AT&T is starting off its rollout more slowly. “Today’s introduction begins in limited parts of 8 metro areas across the U.S.,” the carrier said. “It will expand rapidly.”
Previously, T-Mobile has been beating its rivals in 5G speed/availability contests. C-band might well change that.
All recent iPhone models support C-band 5G
If you have an iPhone or iPad that supports 5G then it has a wireless modem that supports C-band.
To spell it out, all these models support C-band 5G on AT&T and Verizon: iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini as well as iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 mini.
As for tablets, there’s the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (5th gen), 11-inch iPad Pro (3rd gen) and iPad mini 6.
The airport exception
Wednesday’s rollout was originally scheduled for earlier in January, but AT&T and Verizon delayed it at the request of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Airlines are concerned C-band 5G will interfere with automated cockpit systems.
Neither carrier agrees there are potential problems, pointing out a similar 5G service is already in use in France. But they agreed to delay implementing C-band 5G near airports for the time being.