Verizon announced this week that the LG Wing will receive an update that will allow it to use Verizon’s new 5G spectrum – more than a year after LG exited the smartphone business altogether. The LG Wing has been certified to use a mid-band spectrum called C-band, an important part of Verizon’s 5G network that offers faster-than-LTE speeds and a wide-range signal. Verizon spokesman George Koroneos said the update started hitting devices yesterday and will continue rolling out throughout the week.
That’s good news if you’re one of the few people to have purchased an LG Wing, and truly a testament to LG for delivering on its promise to continue providing support for its devices. But why is a year-and-a-half-old phone from an older mobile brand getting this update now, when, say, last year’s Google Pixel 5A isn’t? Because 5G in this country is still a mess, that’s why.
Operators have frantically gathered 5G spectrum over the past few years in an effort to win an imaginary race. While AT&T and Verizon had to wait to grab their share of the all-important midrange spectrum, they got creative and did things like repackage LTE as “5G Evolution” and pretend mmWave would be the coming. Meanwhile, T-Mobile has gobbled up the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier for its midband spectrum and its replacement has floundered with endless delays.
Their efforts to win the “race to 5G” have resulted in a confusing patchwork of network frequencies that require the proper hardware, software, and FCC clearances to use them. With so many hurdles to jump, manufacturers like Google can launch a phone that could support C-band, but ultimately decide not to take the final hurdle to certify it on the carrier’s network.
This isn’t something you need to worry about if you’re buying a new 5G phone through your carrier – it’ll almost certainly work with the 5G network they’re currently promoting. But if you have a 5G phone from your carrier that’s a year or two old, or an unlocked phone, it’s much less clear which networks they will support and which they won’t. LG may not have gotten the smartphone business right, but at least they got that part right.