Race to 5G: June 2019 Update

Verizon maintains its lead in the Race to 5G for June, but there's a bold new competitor lighting up the map in yellow. Sprint 5G is here, it's big, and it's different.

At the end of May, Sprint launched its mid-band 5G network in four cities, immediately covering more people and more area than any other 5G launch has done so far. In Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City, Sprint now says it covers 3.59 million people, far more than AT&T or Verizon are doing. That doesn't quite get it points for coverage, though: You need to cover 5 million people to get a point in our scoring system.

Sprint is now selling a phone and a hotspot, the LG V50 and the HTC 5G Hub, netting it six points. The company also just pre-announced the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, which is going on sale on June 21. We tested the LG V50 on launch day in Dallas, and had middling results—speeds went up to 700Mbps on a Sprint bus tour, but were harder to track down when we were on our own. That means the network doesn't get points for speed. With Sprint 5G launching in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Washington at some point in June or July, we look forward to testing it again soon. While we were able to find Sprint's unlaunched 5G in Brooklyn, it wasn't in a shape to test yet.

Verizon still says it's available only in central Chicago and Minneapolis, although we've heard reports of 5G working in downtown Saint Paul, so we added that ZIP code to our map. The company has been selling the Moto Z3, the new Moto Z4, and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G phones to eager subscribers in those cities. We award five points when our partners at Ookla tell us that ten devices have passed a 1Gbps threshold on a 5G network, and four more if all the 5G connections average out above 200Mbps. (Note: Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis,'s parent company.) Verizon surpassed both of those thresholds by a long shot this month, so it gets 9 solid points for speed.

AT&T still says it has 5G in 19 cities, but only for enterprise customers and developers. It's selling a Netgear 5G hotspot and the $999 Samsung Galaxy S10 5G on a special $90/month enterprise service plan to that crowd, netting it six points for devices. It has also said it will cap 5G speeds at 2Gbps, for now. When we went to test AT&T in Dallas, we got 1.3Gbps speeds on its Netgear hotspot. We're not giving AT&T any points for coverage or speed yet, because we haven't seen enough evidence of its devices used by actual subscribers.

T-Mobile is the only major carrier that now hasn't shown some form of 5G. The company has pledged to launch 5G by the end of the first half of 2019—which means the end of June—but it's in a bit of a tough position because its 5G strategy is heavily dependent on low-band 5G, which won't be supported by any devices until later this fall. T-Mobile owns some millimeter wave 5G spectrum in a handful of major, important cities, so we anticipate it will launch a little bit of 5G in those cities, along with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G phone, by the end of June to fulfill its promise.

Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle are our best guesses for upcoming T-Mobile launches. We've tested T-Mobile's pre-launch 5G here in New York and gotten speeds up to about 500Mbps, which is great performance considering it has limited millimeter wave spectrum and it's on an unofficial network.