Civic News

Verizon brings 5G service to select parts of Baltimore

Available downtown and in parts of Baltimore County, the 5G Ultra Wideband rollout is a first step to introducing the next generation of wireless technology in Baltimore, officials said.

The race to 5G is on.

(Photo by Flickr user Kārlis Dambrāns, used under a Creative Commons license)

5G is live in Baltimore. Verizon is introducing its 5G Ultra Wideband service for wireless customers downtown and in parts of Baltimore County. This service is expected to be double the speeds of 4G and be a significant bridge in the digital divide in terms of internet connectivity, officials said on Wednesday.

“This is a win-win deal and a game changer for residents and visitors in Baltimore city,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said at a press conference.

Verizon said Baltimore is the first city where this 5G connectivity is going live in Maryland.

“We are excited about the possibilities of this cutting-edge technology to connect all Baltimoreans, especially those who have been historically disconnected and left out,” City Council President Brandon Scott said in a statement.

5G is the next generation of mobile technology, promising improved download speeds and capacity. However, it’s not moving to a new generation all at once, as mobile carriers are releasing services in certain areas and versions as the technology becomes available.

The service that’s being launched in Baltimore is under the banner of 5G Ultra Wideband, which runs on a millimeter wave network that’s the company’s fastest version so far but has a shorter range, according to The Verge. As a result, Verizon has been expanding this service in parts of certain cities, which now includes Baltimore. At the same time, it also launched this week a service called 5G Nationwide that will be more widely available, including all of Maryland. It is slower than the Ultra Wideband (though faster than LTE), and can be used in a wider area.

According to Verizon, the 5G Ultra Wideband service will be available in areas including Inner Harbor, downtown, Power Plant Live! Camden Yards & M&T Bank Stadium, Towson University, and Cockeysville. It’s expected to offer up to four Gbps download speeds and be able to handle 100 times the data volumes of 4G.

Those areas of the city aren’t known as historically disconnected and left out. But the tenor of Young’s press conference was that the technology is new and should eventually permeate the whole city.  As the relationship grows with Verizon, at least form the administration’s perspective, they want to use 5G as a means to increasing internet connectivity for all.


The company has launched local programs designed to broaden access, too. In February, Verizon previously launched a program to provide access to laptops and tech training in five city public schools. The next month, the company launched a tech workforce training initiative with the Ministers Conference of Baltimore and Vicinity, allowing the company to work with community groups working on digital inclusion and tech training.

“Particularly during this pandemic, the ability for small businesses to seamlessly conduct contactless transactions with their customers or students and teachers having enhanced connections to collaborate together on homework assignments are just a couple of many examples that 5G enhanced capabilities will further digital inclusion in our Baltimore communities,” said Eric Fitzgerald Reed, Verizon’s State Government Affairs VP for Entertainment & Tech Policy in the east region.

Digi.City Founder Chelsea Collier said it best close to a year ago at a Verizon-sponsored event about internet connectivity.

“Technology is like tofu. You can apply it to good or you can apply it to bad, but it’s how humans work together to use it that makes the difference,” said Collier.

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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