LG Wing and Pixel 5 owners have something to look forward to: the Federal Communications Commission has approved these devices to use faster C-band 5G frequencies, according to a PCMag tipster. The two phones have joined an exclusive company made up of some of the first devices approved to use the new frequencies. Samsung’s Galaxy S21 phones and the iPhone 12 lineup are the only others that currently offer support for these frequencies in the US.
C-band will deliver a much-needed speed boost to 5G in the US, particularly for Verizon and AT&T customers. Currently, their nationwide networks rely mostly on slower low-band spectrum. This swath of so-called mid-band frequencies went up for auction at the end of 2020, and US carriers bid a record $80.9 billion to secure blocks of spectrum for their use.
These frequencies won’t be available for use until late 2021 / early 2022, but LG and Google appear to be getting ahead of the curve. With this FCC approval, the companies can offer software updates to enable the use of C-band frequencies on these specific devices.
As things stand now, not every 5G phone works with every kind of 5G frequency. Some devices, particularly budget models, support only low- and mid-band. Others are also compatible with high-band like Verizon’s Ultra Wideband, which the carrier indicates by selling certain models branded as “UW.” C-band will complicate things even more; manufacturers need to get FCC approval to retroactively add support to their existing devices so they can take advantage of the new spectrum.
No doubt C-band will be a welcome addition to 5G networks in the US, but it’s one more thing to be aware of if you plan to buy a new phone this year. T-Mobile customers won’t need to worry as much since that carrier’s network already uses other mid-band frequencies. But if you’re on Verizon or AT&T and plan on hanging on to your phone for a few years, it’s worth getting a device that either supports C-band now or will in the future.