This story was updated on January 21 with additional test results.

Verizon’s 5G C-band is the biggest upgrade in the carrier’s years, and it’s making a real difference. In our tests, the C-band boosted Verizon 5G speeds to 735 Mbps, which is similar to what we’ve seen previously with the company’s “national” 5G network.

This week, Verizon launched its facelift of 5G in 46 cities, and AT&T did so in eight cities. Verizon’s C-band uses the new 60 MHz waveform to provide a faster, more reliable connection. The difference is noticeable, with significantly faster connections and less congestion.

Verizon is clearly just getting started. In four neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, we saw widely varying performance with C-band, ranging from an average download speed of 534 Mbps in the best segment (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn) to about 100 in the worst (Kew Gardens). Up to Mbps. Queens). In the best segment, speeds hit 733 Mbps down; In the worst case, they did not exceed 150 Mbps.

The improved speeds we’ve seen here could make Verizon a real contender for T-Mobile’s faster citywide “5G UC” network. For now, T-Mobile has better broadband coverage with better performance across the city. But as Verizon continues to optimize sites, that could certainly change.

At our fastest location in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Verizon beat T-Mobile’s speeds by averaging 534 Mbps to T-Mobile’s 346 Mbps.

With 46 metropolitan areas operational simultaneously, reports are pouring in from across the country. Redditors are busy posting great C-band speeds, which include 859 Mbps in Los Angeles, 586 Mbps outside Pittsburgh, and 413 Mbps in Indianapolis.

To test the C-band, we’re using the new Ookla Wind software, a carrier-grade package that works on a modified Samsung Galaxy S21+ phone. The Pro version of the Wind, which the company provided us for testing, shows all the details of frequency band usage and allows testers to create complex setups with voice, data, text and video. (We’ll be using Wind for more stories in the future, including our fastest mobile network test.)

Where is the C band?
According to Verizon, Verizon’s C-band is currently present in 46 metropolitan areas and covers 90 million people. But it was a little difficult to find in New York. This map shows where I did, and I didn’t find a C-band during my travels.

I couldn’t find a C band in most of East Harlem or Western Queens. I found it in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, Queens, as well as in the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Cypress Hills neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

There may be technical glitches where connections are still blocked on many of the built in sites.

In East Harlem, I found sites at 108th St and 1st Ave and 120th St and 1st Ave that were identified by Ookla technical analyst Milan Milanovic as C-band equipment. But my phone strongly refused to connect to the C band there.

On these sites, my phone would connect to mmWave first, which makes sense – mmWave is still faster than C-band. But out of mmWave range, or with mmWave disabled on the test phone, it won’t connect to the C-band at all. Looks like Verizon is blocking access.

Highway to Exclusion Zone
Queens is a borough of 2.3 million people between two busy airports, JFK and LaGuardia. Most rounding will be eliminated by “exclusion zones,” the carriers have agreed with the FAA.

These exclusion zones will affect downtown areas near city airports, including LaGuardia, Chicago Midway, Dallas Love Field and San Diego International. San Bruno, near the San Francisco airport, also falls in one of these areas. Residents of cities like Seattle and Philadelphia, where the airport is far from dense city neighborhoods, are in luck here.

Although Verizon lists the exclusion zone as a 2 mile long rectangle extending from the end of each airport’s runway, I did not find a C band in an arc spanning 4 miles southeast to 3 miles southwest from the end of the LaGuardia Trail. It includes dense areas of many Queens including Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside, Sunnyside, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

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