The True Cost of Real 5G Services

Apple fans are set to preview 5G tomorrow when the iPhone 12 pre-orders. For some, this may be the closest they’ve ever gotten to super-fast 5G: spending money on a device that supports a new wireless standard.

I talked a little about why 5G coverage is still the way to go, way too sporadically to be the single most important reason to upgrade to any iPhone 12 variant. But if you don’t want to hear my thoughts on coverage, let’s talk about costs.

It would be silly to think that you can just upgrade to the new iPhone 5G and get instant access to higher speeds on your wireless data plan. This may be true for some people who already subscribe to 5G wireless data plans. However, for many others, upgrading to a 5G phone also means upgrading to a potentially more expensive data plan to access those higher speeds – if you can do it at all. (Okay, okay, I’ll stop.)

Here’s a quick overview of what these additional costs look like for the Big Three operators:

True 5G cost on Verizon: $ 80 / month

Prepaid Rates: This is a little confusing. If you look directly at Verizon’s listings for prepaid plans , you won’t see any mention of 5G anywhere – unlike its postpaid unlimited plans, which we’ll get back to soon.

Elsewhere on Verizon’s site, the FAQ confirms that prepaid plan users will have access to “5G,” but not 5G you probably think. Recall that Verizon is working on two 5G technologies: “Nationwide” and “Ultra-wideband 5G”. The first is just low-frequency 5G which gives you 4G performance under the 5G badge. The latter is true 5G – all those fantastic gigabit speeds and up that are mentioned in recent press events by every smartphone maker.

As Verizon points out:

“At this time, ultra-wideband 5G is not available for prepaid plans. Ultra-wideband 5G goes prepaid in early 2021. Those with prepaid plans can access 5G Nationwide * using a 5G Nationwide-enabled device. ”

So, in theory, you can access 5G without having to upgrade your prepaid plan – unless you’re on the very basic Talk & Text plan for $ 35 a month. If so, then you will only get 2G speed, no matter what 5G phone you have.

Otherwise, if you want 5G ultra-wideband – assuming you can access Verizon’s high-speed network wherever you are – you’ll have to upgrade to one of the company’s prepaid unlimited plans. And that’s going to be a significant jump considering its postpaid plans are priced between $ 40 and $ 65.

Pricing plans: You may not be using a lot of data on the go, so it makes sense to save money with one of Verizon’s plans – for example, you get a certain number of gigabytes per month before you’re “re-billed outrageous over-age fees ($ 15 / GB. using any data is rounded .)

As before, you’ll only get access to “nationwide 5G,” although I don’t see any claims from Verizon about latency in access to its 5G ultra-broadband network. I suspect that users of restricted data plans will not be able to access this network, which seems silly, but I am not setting the billing rules.

Verizon’s data rates range from $ 65 to $ 75 (excluding discounts).

Postpaid plans: If you want access to Verizon’s 5G ultra-broadband on your smartphone – the fastest 5G speed you can get – you’ll need to shell out Verizon at least $ 80 a month . That’s the smallest amount you’ll pay if you add the $ 10 5G Ultra Wideband upgrade to your Get Started No Limit plan for $ 70 a month or purchase the Play More Unlimited plan for $ 80 a month, which includes UWB. 5G access.

Real 5G cost for AT&T: $ 75 per month.

Prepaid Plans: Like Verizon, AT&T describes its 5G services in two ways: “5G,” which is its own version of “really fast LTE,” and 5G +, which is an implementation of “ultra-fast gigabit speed using mmWave technology.” Only one of AT&T’s prepaid wireless plans can access all of 5G, and that’s the Unlimited Data Plus plan for $ 75 a month.

I have not seen anything to suggest that you can only access 5G and not 5G + – AT&T does not separate the two in the descriptions for any of its plans. I believe this is the right way to go if you want the latest and improved 4G LTE version you already have. This is, of course, assuming you don’t actually get the slower speeds in 5G.

Data rates: it’s easy. You won’t be able to access 5G if you subscribe to AT&T’s 4GB plan for $ 50 a month.

Postpaid Plans: Each of AT&T’s postpaid “ unlimited ” plans can access their 5G network (s). Prices range from $ 65 / month for AT&T Unlimited Starter to $ 85 / month for AT&T Unlimited Elite (which gives you + 30GB mobile hotspot data, HD streaming, HBO Max, and other mobile security features). Please note that these prices include AT&T discounts on Auto Pay and Paperless Billing. So in reality, these plans usually cost $ 10 more.

Real cost of 5G on T-Mobile: $ 40 / month (actually, $ 50 / month).

Before we get started, a word on T-Mobile’s 5G implementation: “Uncarrier” makes no distinction between high-speed or low-speed 5G (mmWave versus the “nationwide” lower 5G band you should have heard by now). It also creates 5G in its mid-range, which divides the difference between blazing low-coverage speeds and 4G LTE-like high-coverage speeds.

All Plans: You get access to T-Mobile’s 5G network wherever you are, with any plan .

This includes all prepaid plans, data plans, and postpaid plans. The cheapest 5G connection option is T-Mobile’s 10GB prepaid plan ($ 40 per month), while the cheapest “Unlimited” plan is the eponymous prepaid plan for $ 50 per month. Its postpaid plans start at $ 60 per month.

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