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Verizon will launch a faster, brawnier 5G network on Jan. 19. You need one of these phones to use it

A new version of Verizon's 5G network promises greater coverage and faster speeds. Here's what you need to know.

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Verizon's 5G network is getting a big boost to help catch up to T-Mobile, which has the nation's largest 5G network.

CNET

Verizon's 5G network is getting a big boost this month, promising faster speeds and wider coverage for the phones, tablets and other devices on its service. Verizon's 5G upgrade is happening on Jan. 19, after a two-week delay. The move will cover 100 million people this month and further help Verizon catch up to T-Mobile, which currently has the largest 5G network in the US, thanks to its merger with Sprint two years ago.

If you want to take immediate advantage of the faster Verizon 5G network, you'll need to have the right device. The good news? By the time the network turns on in two weeks, "upwards of 90%" of Verizon's 5G users are expected to be able to tap into the new connection, Kyle Malady, Verizon's chief technology officer, told CNET in an interview.

"A lot of devices already have the right software in them," Malady said. "We've been testing the devices, and we've been working with the manufacturers for a long time now so all the software is ready to go." 

Phone and iPads that will work with Verizon's new 5G network

  • Apple's iPhone 12 line (running iOS 15.2) 
  • Apple's iPhone 13 line (running iOS 15.2)
  • Samsung's Galaxy S21 line, including the S21 FE
  • Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3 
  • Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 3
  • Apple iPads with 5G (the iPad Pro and iPad Mini, running iPadOS 15.2)

What to know about Verizon's new 5G network

Verizon spent over $50 billion last year  to purchase what is known as C-band spectrum. Verizon's current 5G network relies on a combination of 5G technologies known as millimeter-wave and low-band spectrum. Millimeter-wave has excellent performance but significantly limited coverage that often is only available on certain street corners or in select parts of stadiums, airports or arenas. Low-band offers strong coverage, but its performance is often equivalent to 4G LTE rather than better. 

With the addition of C-band, Verizon will be able to add a 5G network that operates in the middle, bringing much faster performance than low-band 5G while offering significantly better coverage than millimeter-wave. 

On Tuesday the carrier said that it will cover 100 million people with the new C-band network, which will operate alongside millimeter-wave under its Ultra Wideband branding, when it goes live on Jan. 19. 

A Verizon spokesperson says that other phones, such as Google's Pixel 6 line, will "receive software updates to enable C-band access in the coming weeks." The spokesperson adds that "going forward every 5G device Verizon sells to postpaid customers will be C-band compatible and we will have more than 20 C-band-compatible devices by the end of the year." 

While it is important to have the right device, Verizon also requires that those planning to use C-band or its millimeter-wave network subscribe to its higher-priced unlimited plans. This includes the Play More, Do More and Get More options available today as well as the older Above and Beyond unlimited plans the carrier offered a few years ago. 

Those on other plans will not be able to use C-band, even if they have a device that supports it.