Verizon no longer plans to charge extra for 5G service anytime soon

Verizon no longer plans to charge extra for 5G service anytime soon
Verizon made headlines earlier this week by announcing a bunch of "new" Mix & Match plans that are actually incredibly similar to the same options unveiled a little over a year ago, merely adding limited Disney+ access to the Start Unlimited and Do More Unlimited service tiers, as well as the full Disney+/Hulu/ESPN+ bundle to the Play More Unlimited and Get More Unlimited perks.

While that's certainly nothing to sneeze at in terms of extra value provided at the same old prices, there was also another notable change that almost went unnoticed. 

In the short run, this may not prove particularly important for many Verizon subscribers as far as their real-world user experience is concerned, but in the long term, it could be an extremely consequential move for the US wireless industry as a whole.

No more concrete plans to charge extra for 5G access

It may seem like an eternity ago, but Big Red first announced its controversial intention of charging $10 a month for 5G Ultra Wideband service less than 18 months back, quickly putting the plan on hold after causing quite a bit of a public uproar and drawing some much-deserved ridicule from T-Mobile.

Of course, the nation's largest cellular company insisted on virtually every occasion available to warn its customers the 5G surcharge was still coming... eventually, which no longer appears to be the case.

If you take a close look at Verizon's freshly revised plan details and the fine print next to the same "mix and match" options released last year, you'll immediately notice one very important line of text has disappeared from the Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, and Get More Unlimited information.

Namely, it looks like the carrier's "limited time" 5G access freebie has expired, but instead of having to pay for that now, those subscribed to the three aforementioned Verizon Unlimited plans get 5G Ultra Wideband service included with no strings attached or catches of any sort.

In other words, it sure sounds like Big Red has caved to all the public pressure from the last 18 months, waiving the special 5G fee for good. Then again, forever is a long time, and for now, Verizon has merely confirmed in a response to Light Reading's questions on the matter that "there is no charge for 5G Ultra Wideband at this time."

Poor coverage and sluggish rollouts to blame

It's no longer a big secret that Verizon has bet on the wrong horse by relying exclusively on mmWave technology for the early stages of its 5G deployment strategy, creating a blazing fast network that a small fraction of customers can actually access in a small number of places and only under some pretty extraordinary circumstances. 

Basically, any type of obstacle, be it a wall, tree, or even a person, can block out the 5G Ultra Wideband signal, not to mention indoor availability is largely a pipe dream. For what it's worth, Verizon aims to implement a technology dubbed Dynamic Spectrum Sharing to achieve a similar level of "nationwide" coverage as T-Mobile and AT&T sometime in the next few months.

Of course, just like the competition, Verizon's wide-scale 5G connectivity is bound to enable barely noticeable speed upgrades over existing 4G LTE networks at first, requiring a lot of mid-band integration work that might take a long time to truly take things to the next level.

Otherwise put, Big Red would be smart not to consider bringing back the special 5G service charge for at least another year or so. All that being said, it's worth pointing out that the $35 and up Start Unlimited plan does currently require an additional $10 a month for that exact 5G-enabling purpose, which is clearly not a good deal.

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