Verizon initially planned to go live with its mobile 5G network on April 11, and last month opened pre-orders for the Moto Z3's 5G Moto Mod with that launch date in mind. But now in a surprise move the company is flipping the switch on 5G mobile service in Chicago and Minneapolis today, a week ahead of schedule.

The carrier announced that its millimeter wave spectrum — 5G Ultra Wideband in marketing speak — is now available in the following areas of Chicagoland:

  • West Loop
  • South Loop
  • Union Station
  • Willis Tower
  • The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Millennium Park
  • The Chicago Theatre
  • Verizon store on The Magnificent Mile
  • The Gold Coast
  • Old Town
  • River North

5G is also in these Minneapolis neighborhoods and venues:

  • Downtown
  • Downtown East
  • Downtown West
  • U.S. Bank Stadium
  • Minneapolis Convention Center
  • Minneapolis Central Library
  • Mill City Museum
  • Target Center
  • First Avenue venue
  • The Commons
  • portions of Elliot Park
  • Verizon store inside The Mall of America

Right now, the only way subscribers will be able to access 5G is to own a Moto Z3 with the 5G Moto Mod, which adds a 5G modem and antennae to the phone's native 4G support — so maybe not "first 5G smartphone" so much as "first phone with a bulky 5G accessory." Verizon promises that customers with the Moto Z3 and the 5G Moto Mod will be able to experience average speeds of around 450Mbps, and peak performance rates of up to 1Gbps.

The Z3 is on sale now for the seemingly affordable price of $240, but purchasing the 5G Moto Mod will cost users another $200 and then 5G service itself is available as a $10 per month (per line) add-on to an existing Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, or Above Unlimited plan. 5G Moto Mod buyers will get their first three months of the add-on fee covered.

Verizon is currently seeding out an Android 9 Pie software upgrade to the Moto Z3 that will allow the device to work with the 5G Moto Mod and connect to the new network.

Customers can order the 5G Moto Mod online and expect to receive it within the coming week or so. Verizon hopes to establish 5G mobile service in at least 30 cities by the end of 2019.