While most US carriers have been pushing sub-6GHz 5G, Verizon has been advocating for the 6GHz, mmWave kind that more closely matches what most people imagine 5G to be. More recently, however, Verizon has also been embracing a specific type of the sub-6GHz spectrum, labeling it as “5G Nationwide”. Now it is making that service available even for those on its prepaid tiers, despite and in spite of recent reports claiming how unimpressive that 5G connection maybe, depending on where you’re at.
The crux of the problem with Verizon’s 5G Nationwide is akin to the cliche phrase, “Location, Location, Location.” While definitely faster, the properties of 6GHz mmWave 5G limit it to shorter ranges and require more expensive equipment. In other words, it has limited availability compared to the sub-6GHz networks of AT&T and T-Mobile.
Verizon’s solution is to adopt what it called a Dynamic Spectrum Sharing or DSS technology that makes 5G ride on 4G bands. In theory, this means that wherever Verizon’s 4G LTE is available, so will its 5G Nationwide service be. Verizon seems confident enough with this kind of 5G that it’s making the service available even to its prepaid customers.
It confirmed to 9to5Mac that 5G Nationwide is now available for 5G-compatible prepaid phones in its catalogue. That includes the iPhone 12, of course, but the Galaxy S20 FE might also be compatible.
The one catch to this expansion is that Verizon’s DSS 5G Nationwide service is reportedly inconsistent depending on the location exactly because it is sharing space and using the narrow and slower 4G LTE spectrum. In some cases, it may even be slower than Verizon’s own LTE bands and users might want to manually switch to using 4G only in those cases.