What Does 5G UW Stand For?
5G UW stands for 5G Ultra Wideband. It’s a marketing term Verizon uses to identify one type of its 5G network. So when you see the 5G UW icon in your iPhone or Android phone‘s status bar, it means you are connected to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network.
Notably, many Android phones show the 5G UWB icon instead of the 5G UW icon when connected to Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network. But it’s not the same as Apple’s ultra-wideband (UWB). Unlike 5G UW, which corresponds to the 5G cellular technology, UWB is a wireless technology that Apple uses for nearby communication between devices, and it’s not cellular.
What Is 5G Ultra Wideband?
Not all 5G networks are made the same. Consequently, some offer super-fast connectivity but have a shorter coverage area, whereas others provide comparably lower data speeds but have a wider coverage area. To differentiate between its 5G network implementations, Verizon uses two monikers.
One is the 5G Ultra Wideband, which refers to the carrier’s mmWave and mid-band (C-band) 5G networks. The other is 5G Nationwide, which is low-band 5G. And when you are connected to 5G Nationwide on Verizon, your phone will show a regular 5G icon.
It’s important to note that only smartphones compatible with Verizon 5G UW will connect to this network and show the icon. Fortunately, Verizon has a wide variety of 5G UW-compatible smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone 14-series, iPhone 13-series, Samsung Galaxy S23-series, Google Pixel 7-series, and Motorola Edge 5G UW.
Besides having a 5G UW compatible smartphone, you need to be in Verizon 5G UW coverage area to get access to its Ultra Wideband network. You can see where Verizon’s 5G UW network is available on Verizon’s Coverage Map website. The red dots on the map indicate the cities that have Verizon’s Ultra Wideband 5G.
RELATED: Which iPhones Have 5G?
5G vs. 5G UW vs. 5G UC
Although there are multiple 5G monikers, whether you see the 5G, 5G UW, or 5G UC icon on your phone, you are still connected to 5G. But as mentioned earlier, you will get different data speeds depending on which icon you see on your phone.
A regular 5G icon on either of the three top carriers in the US means you are connected to their low-band 5G. Low-band 5G networks can cover longer distances but have relatively slow data speeds. In practice, you will likely get speeds similar to 4G LTE.
But as the 5G UW icon shows connectivity to mmWave or mid-band 5G, you will receive comparably faster connectivity. But even in the case of 5G UW, you can see drastically different speeds, depending on whether you are connected to mmWave or mid-band 5G. mmWave 5G networks can reach gigabit speeds, whereas the mid-band 5G speeds can range 100Mbps to 500Mbps. But depending on the network congestion, speeds for both types of 5G networks can go lower.
If you want to check whether your phone’s connected to Verizon’s mmWave or mid-band 5G while showing the 5G UW icon, you can dial
*3001#12345#* on any iPhone and tap on “RAT Servicing Cell Info.” If the band is 77, you are connected to mid-band 5G. Otherwise, 260 and 261 show your phone is using mmWave 5G. Unfortunately, different Android devices have different dial numbers for similar band information. So it’s better to use an app like Signal Spy or Network Cell Info Lite.
On the other hand, 5G UC is T-Mobile’s equivalent of 5G UW. So similarly, you can see crazy-fast speeds on mmWave or reasonably decent on mid-band 5G.
Can I Get 5G UW on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Other Carriers?
As 5G UW is a Verizon branding, you won’t get it on other carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile. But both carriers have their own marketing terms to describe their different 5G implementations. We have already talked about T-Mobile’s 5G UC. The telecom operator also uses 5G Extended Range, which is T-Mobile’s equivalent of 5G Nationwide.
AT&T has “5G+” branding for its mmWave and mid-band 5G networks in other carriers. But it has no special name for low-band 5G; it’s simply called 5G.
Visible or Visible by Verizon, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) by Verizon, also uses the 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Nationwide branding to highlight connectivity with mmWave and mid-band 5G.
In terms of international carriers, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter 5G UW or 5G UWB branding. But there is a slight possibility, as carriers globally sometimes use similar marketing or branding terms.
For other 5G-related jargon, check out our explainer on the C-Band 5G and why it’s important. We also have a guide on how to find out if your phone is 5G.
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