Will 5G Increase Your Phone Bill?

Young man using his 5G phone
Photo by GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com

5G is the newest cellular network technology that promises to bring extremely fast data speeds to the masses.

People in tech have been excited about 5G for years. In this past year, as the major carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon) have been building up their 5G networks, many people outside the tech industry have joined in on that excitement.

While cellphone carriers are gaining a new service to sell to the public, you might be wondering what exactly that means for your cellphone bill. Does 5G mean more expensive cellphone plans?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a clear yes or no. We’ll explain why.

5G could cost more in the future

Currently, none of the carriers are charging extra for 5G access. However, whether this will always be the case is yet to be determined.

On their plans that include free 5G access, Verizon is claiming that this is a $10 per month value, hinting that eventually, they might start charging an extra $10 per month for 5G. Meanwhile, AT&T and T-Mobile do not mention any sort of value for the 5G they include in their plans.

You have to have the right plan

While none of the carriers are currently charging for 5G, you might have to purchase their more expensive unlimited plans in order to actually get access to 5G.

AT&T currently offers 5G with their Unlimited Starter, Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Elite plans. Verizon includes 5G with their Unlimited Get More, Do More and Play More cellphone plans.

These plans are among the most expensive of both carriers’ offerings. While you will not have to technically pay extra for 5G, you’ll be spending your money on high-end plans.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile (as promised, as part of the merger with Sprint) has made 5G access available to all customers on T-Mobile cellphone plans.

Still, some may argue that you’ll get the most out of the new network technology on an unlimited plan. Here are just some plans that include 5G access:

You’re probably going to need a new phone

In order to use a carrier’s 5G network, you’ll need a 5G-capable phone. These have become more widely available, but are still not extremely common.

All of Samsung’s most recent flagships (Galaxy S20 and the upcoming Note20) are 5G-compatible. Meanwhile, Apple has yet to release a 5G-ready iPhone, though it is expected that the iPhone 12 models set to release later this year will all be 5G-compatible.

The new technology in these 5G phones seems to be costing consumers a little more money. This year’s base model iPhone 12, for example, is expected to cost about $50 more than last year’s base iPhone 11, in large part due to the 5G compatibility.

Do you really need 5G?

The important thing to remember about 5G right now is that it’s still very much in its infancy.

It’s a cool feature to have on your device and plan, but at this point, it probably will not make or break your overall experience. It will be some time before we can expect the absolute best from 5G networks.

You should also note that while carriers are touting nationwide 5G networks, the truth is 5G networks still have plenty of room for coverage growth. If you really want 5G, make sure you get coverage in your area.

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