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  • Writer's pictureSamiksha Jain

The 5G Gap Widens: Verizon Lags as T-Mobile and AT&T Forge Ahead

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The Early Days of 5G in the U.S:

  • When major U.S. carriers like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon first introduced 5G, they used a version that was built on top of existing 4G networks. This approach, called non-standalone 5G (5G NSA), was a faster and more cost-effective way to roll out 5G services. However, it didn't fully utilize the potential of 5G technology.

Transition to Standalone 5G Networks (5G SA):

  • Standalone 5G networks are a significant upgrade. Unlike the initial 5G deployments, 5G SA networks are designed specifically for 5G from the ground up. This means they don't rely on 4G infrastructure. The benefits of 5G SA include:

  • Faster data speeds and more extensive coverage.

  • Ability to support a higher number of devices concurrently.

  • Enhanced support for applications requiring low latency and real-time responses.

  • Improved network security and efficiency.

  • 5G network slicing, which allows the creation of multiple virtual networks, each tailored for specific types of traffic and services.

Updates from Major Carriers:

  • T-Mobile: They were ahead of the curve, launching their 5G SA network back in 2021. This move has improved the coverage of their low-band 600MHz network and has been advantageous in expanding their business customer base.

  • AT&T: Similar to T-Mobile, AT&T has also started transitioning its customers to its 5G SA network. Their chief networking executive highlighted that many new mobile devices are ready for 5G SA, and they are moving thousands of customers daily to this improved network.

  • Verizon: Verizon's journey to 5G SA has been slower. They initially planned to launch their 5G SA network in 2020, but as of the last update, they were still in the trial phase and hadn't made it commercially available. Verizon's approach seems focused on ensuring the quality and reliability of their 5G SA network, rather than rushing its rollout. Despite the delay, they are committed to developing a robust 5G SA network, with a focus on ensuring that both data and voice sessions are as good as, or better than, their 4G network.

The Current Scenario:

  • While T-Mobile and AT&T have made significant strides in deploying and transitioning to 5G SA, Verizon is still in the process of testing and has not fully launched its 5G SA network for its customers. This delay has put them behind their original plan, but their focus is on the quality of the network rather than the speed of deployment.


The move to standalone 5G networks is a key step in fully realizing the potential of 5G technology. It's a complex process, involving significant infrastructure changes and testing to ensure network reliability and performance. T-Mobile and AT&T are currently leading in this aspect, while Verizon is taking a more measured approach to ensure their network's quality meets their standards.


Q1. What is a standalone 5G network (5G SA)?

A standalone 5G network is a significant upgrade from the early 5G NSA. It's a network built specifically for 5G, completely independent of 4G infrastructure. This design leads to faster data speeds, wider coverage, support for more devices, low-latency applications, enhanced security, and network slicing for customized traffic handling.

Q2. What are the advantages of 5G SA over 5G NSA?

The benefits of 5G SA include:

  • Increased data speeds and broader network coverage.

  • Higher capacity for device connectivity.

  • Support for low-latency and real-time applications.

  • Improved security and network efficiency.

  • The capability for 5G network slicing.

Q3. How have major carriers like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon differed in their 5G SA rollout?

  • T-Mobile: Launched its 5G SA network in 2021, enhancing low-band 600MHz network coverage and business customer engagement.

  • AT&T: Has begun transitioning customers to its 5G SA network, with a focus on customers with 5G SA-ready devices.

  • Verizon: Initially planned a 2020 launch for its 5G SA network but faced delays. As of the last update, they were still in the trial phase, focusing on quality and reliability over speed in deployment.

Q4. Why has Verizon's rollout of 5G SA been delayed?

Verizon’s slower rollout of 5G SA has been due to their commitment to ensuring the network’s quality and reliability matches or exceeds their 4G network. They have focused on thorough development and testing, rather than rushing the rollout.

Q5. What is the current status of 5G SA deployment among U.S. carriers?

T-Mobile and AT&T have made significant progress in deploying and transitioning to 5G SA. Verizon is still in the testing phase and has not fully launched its 5G SA network for customers, focusing on quality assurance.


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