Exclusive: Mapping Sprint Vs. Verizon 5G Coverage In NYC
PC Magazine|November 2019
5G has hit Broadway, but think of it as being in previews.
Sascha Segan

Now that both Verizon and Sprint offer 5G service in New York City, I set out to chart how they’re doing. I walked around several neighborhoods on Friday, October 11, to see whether Sprint’s 5G offers an experience worthy of the name. I also made maps of Verizon’s mysterious, unmapped 5G network.

I used a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G phone for Sprint and a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G for Verizon. I used Ookla field test software, which ran a speed test every two minutes, along with a routine that captured the network indicator in the status bar every minute. I spot-checked the software and visual network indicators against the phone’s service mode screen.

On all the images in this story, the orange dots are 5G; blue dots are 4G.

VERIZON: VERY LITTLE COVERAGE

Verizon’s millimeter-wave 5G approach offers spectacular speeds and capacity, often above 1Gbps, but not very much coverage since the cell sites only have 600- to 800-foot radiuses. Verizon first launched in April in Chicago and Minneapolis, and has since been filling in the downtown areas of both cities—as well as 10 others.

But the company’s lack of coverage maps has been leading it to overpromise coverage by specifying broad neighborhoods where it hasn’t fully built out. In New York, Verizon promises coverage in “parts” of “Midtown, Financial District, Harlem, East Harlem, Hell’s Kitchen, and Washington Heights” in Manhattan, as well as neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx. In my testing, I found “parts” to mean as little as two blocks of a large neighborhood. If it can’t cover full neighborhoods, Verizon should specify exactly which blocks have service.

Verizon Networks in Harlem

In my walk around Harlem, I found Verizon 5G on only a five-block stretch of Eighth Avenue. In East Harlem, it was just at one spot at 116th Street and Park Avenue. When I did get Verizon 5G coverage, though, speeds were amazing. In Harlem, I saw speeds of 1.2Gbps and 1.4Gbps.

Verizon Networks in Hell’s Kitchen

In Hell’s Kitchen, the only 5G sites seemed to be around the Jacob Javits Convention Center and at 42nd and 11th. These are big neighborhoods; the maps speak for themselves.

But again, speeds were amazing—up to 539Mbps outside the convention center. This is the promise and the problem of millimeter-wave 5G. You get amazing speeds, but only in small areas around cell sites, so you need a lot of sites. And in a city like New York, where real estate access is a constant drama, setting up that number of small cells will be very difficult. Here, 5G is not a technology problem; it’s a real estate problem.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM PC MAGAZINEView All

THE HOTTEST TECH TOYS FOR KIDS

From a build-it-yourself space station to a portable storyteller to Harry Potter’s Hedwig, here are the 2021 tech toys that’ll bring the kids in your life a ton of fun

4 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

MicrosoftOneDrive Is Ditching Windows 7, 8, and 8.1

The cloud storage platform will drop support for older versions of Windows in early 2022.

1 min read
PC Magazine
December 2021

THE BEST PRODUCTS OF 2021

You need only one list this holiday season when you’re buying tech gifts. Here’s PCMag’s annual collection of the 101 most exceptional products tested and rated by our experts in the past year.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

Facebook Shuts Down Its Facial-Recognition System

Facebook doesn’t point to a single incident that prompted the decision, but it comes as facial-recognition systems (and the social network in general) have come under fire.

2 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (for PC): Rich Fighting Game

Potent pocket fighting on PC

6 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model (Late 2021): Perennial Gaming Favorite

Faster CPU, better webcam bolster the beloved Blade 15

9 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

HP Chromebook x2 (2021): A Clever Combination

The best Chrome OS detachable of 2018 returns strong B

7 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

Beats Fit Pro: Solid ANC

A bass-heavy alternative to the AirPods Pro

9 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

Apple iPhone 13: A Battery-Life Beast

The Apple iPhone 13 is a battery-life beast, with far greater longevity than previous midrange smartphones.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
November 2021

HOW TO USE SNAP LAYOUTS IN WINDOWS 11

Windows 11 may be better known for its centered taskbar and rounded window borders, but the new Snap Layouts feature (sometimes also called Snap Assist) might be a more useful UI innovation. Windows, as its name implies, has long been excellent at managing and rearranging program windows, but Snap Layouts elevate the operating system (OS) to the next level.

4 mins read
PC Magazine
November 2021
RELATED STORIES

CENTERFOLD - Netgear RBKE960 Mesh Router System

PERFORMANCE GEAR LAID BARE

2 mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2021

Shop for a New WIRELESS PLAN and Save Big

Competition is fierce, and carriers are dangling free phones and streaming subscriptions.

10+ mins read
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
January 2022

T-Mobile and Sprint customers can get a free year of Apple TV+

Offer available to Magenta and Magenta Max subscribers starting on August 25.

1 min read
Macworld
October 2021

Asus ZenWiFi XD6

DESPITE OUR RAPID progress as a species over the last 200 years, the global footprint for radio noise has dwindled in the past two decades. Radio waves are slowly becoming quieter, the very things that ushered us into the realm of unhindered communication all those years ago are now becoming more refined and more sophisticated.

2 mins read
Maximum PC
October 2021

DATA OF 40 MILLION PLUS EXPOSED IN LATEST T-MOBILE BREACH

The names, Social Security numbers and information from driver’s licenses or other identification of just over 40 million people who applied for T-Mobile credit were exposed in a recent data breach, the company said.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
August 20, 2021

Hot Stuff

What we’re raving about this month

1 min read
Macworld
September 2021

How to set up a Wi-Fi extender

Setting up a Wi-Fi extender isn’t difficult, but there are some tips and tricks you need to know for maximum performance.

6 mins read
PCWorld
August 2021

RAINBOW SIX EXTRACTION

We played Ubisoft’s slower, more methodical take on Left 4 Dead

6 mins read
PC Gamer US Edition
September 2021

5G Network Standard

The clever but controversial communications tech explained

6 mins read
Mac Life
July 2021

THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO SPRINTING

WHO DOESN’T WANT TO RUN (AND LOOK!) LIKE AN OLYMPIC SPRINTER? THIS EXPERT-DESIGNED PROGRAM WILL HELP YOU CROSS THAT FINISH LINE — FAST.

10 mins read
Oxygen
Spring 2021