Wireless carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have all been working overtime to show customers how Apple’s new 5G-enabled iPhones work better on the Internet connections that former models use, The Wall Street Journal reports. All three companies have recently begun to leverage Apple’s new product unveiling to snag customers who might not be aware of 5G wireless networks’ capabilities. All four of the new iPhone models are 5G-equipped, which means they can transfer information over the airwaves faster and in larger volumes than before.
A 5G-ready phone also gives the carriers a new opportunity—the chance to pitch something different from one another. Past generations of wireless networks are typically the same, but the carriers have been building their 5G networks differently. They all can sell unique properties to the public, even if they can’t deliver 5G’s potential speed just yet.
“The networks are different for the first time,” Cliff Maldonado, principal analyst at BayStreet Research told The Wall Street Journal. “5G is the perfect time to justify switching carriers.”
Where the carriers currently stand with 5G
Verizon began installing 5G in cities and is now moving to rural areas. Meanwhile, T-Mobile, the second-largest U.S. wireless provider, is promoting its rural 5G expansion. AT&T announced its new aggressive savings offers. All three are counting on 5G to gain new business because customers are most likely to change carriers when they get a new phone.
The battle between carriers benefits Apple because it will bring more attention on its 5G iPhone. The tech company is hopeful the iPhone 12’s arrival will improve sales and return to heights of 2015 when the device’s first large screen version was released. Investors have moved Apple’s market value to $2 trillion based on the confidence in the new 5G technology, according to The Wall Street Journal. The next generation of wireless is expected to improve video chat quality as well as online game play and augmented reality, leading to customers wanting to upgrade their device.
The carriers’ next move
With the Apple 5G iPhone release, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have been quick to step up their 5G deployment efforts. T-Mobile put its focus on its network’s speed and accessibility rather than discounts. Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s chief technology officer, commented that Verizon’s early investments in faster millimeter wave service would disappoint its customers who, “have to go on a treasure hunt to find those 5G speeds.”
Verizon recently expanded the amount of areas that its high-frequency signals cover, however. The downside is while the carrier’s network offers speed, its signal can’t travel beyond a few hundred yards most of the time. Instead, Verizon uses spectrum-sharing technology that lets it combine older 4G signals with new 5G transmissions with the same radio channel. This method improves coverage, but it sacrifices speed in the process. On the plus side for Verizon, the new iPhone is the only Apple device that supports millimeter wave traffic.
AT&T remains focused on price for the time being. The carrier’s recent promotion offers new and current customers a free iPhone if they use an unlimited data plan and trade in certain older smartphones. AT&T wants to make wireless upgrades less complicated. While the promotion is expensive, the carrier still benefits if its subscribers remain with the carrier—especially if it is successful in getting customers to add more products to their service.
Despite the all three of the carriers’ best efforts, the promise of 5G probably won’t be enough to get customers to switch or even upgrade.
“5G will definitely be a major component of the hype for the iPhone 12 launch,” Wave7 Research analyst Jeff Moore told The Wall Street Journal. “Will it fundamentally change the way you interact with your smartphone? No. 5G is not that revolutionary.”
Joe Dyton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.