Verizon’s 5G mobile service is available in just a handful of cities, but the carrier is charging premium prices to the few people who live in range of the network.
Verizon yesterday announced its first 5G hotspot, namely the Inseego MiFi M1000 that Verizon is selling for $650. On top of the device cost, the monthly fees for 5G service will be higher than 4G even though Verizon’s 5G network barely exists.
Verizon said hotspot-only plans “start at $85 a month (plus taxes and fees).” Verizon describes the $85-per-month hotspot plan as “unlimited” when you go through the online checkout process. But the fine print states that customers get 50GB of high-speed 5G data, and 5G speeds are reduced to 3Mbps after that. The plan treats 5G and 4G data separately; it provides 15GB of high-speed 4G data and slows users down to 600kbps after that. Verizon allows 4K video streaming on 5G, while limiting video on the 4G network to 720p.
The carrier noted that the $85 monthly price is “only a $10 increase over 4G LTE service.” But the 5G device’s $650 price is three to four times higher than Verizon’s Jetpack hotspots, and the extra $10 a month provides access to a 5G network that exists only in five cities: Chicago; Denver; Minneapolis; Providence, Rhode Island; and St. Paul, Minnesota. Verizon says it will have 5G service in 30 cities by the end of this year.
Early reviews of Verizon’s 5G service found spotty coverage, so even in those five cities your 5G hotspot might frequently drop down to 4G. Verizon has said its 5G users “should expect typical download speeds of 450Mbps, with peak speeds of above 1.5Gbps and latency less than 30 milliseconds.”
$30 plan for customers adding a line
No-contract options for buying the 5G hotspot include paying $650 up front or $27.08 a month over 24 months. The device is discounted to $499.99 if you also sign a two-year contract. There’s a $40 activation fee, which is discounted to $20 if you buy through VZW.com or the My Verizon app.
There are also hotspot-service plans for people who already have Verizon smartphone service. “Verizon consumer customers with an active Unlimited smartphone plan can add a 5G MiFi M1000 to their account and get 50GB of 5G Ultra Wideband data and 15GB of 4G LTE data for $30 a month (plus taxes and fees), an increase of only $10 over 4G LTE service rates,” Verizon said.
Besides the hotspot, Verizon also sells 5G-enabled phones from LG, Samsung, and Motorola.
Verizon’s first stab at 5G pricing a few months ago also involved a $10 premium over 4G plans. Verizon temporarily dropped that extra fee after complaints about its sparse 5G coverage, but that reprieve didn’t last long as Verizon has resurrected the $10 up-charge model.