Rural-Urban Divide in Network Coverage
5G service is more expensive to build and is less expansive in reach, unable to cut through trees and walls, than its 4G LTE counterpart. Therefore, the economic incentive to build up that infrastructure in rural areas, where trees are plentiful but paying customers are fewer, is diminished compared to the urban markets, where there are lots of users despite walls and trees.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai believes a market incentive could be created for companies like Verizon and AT&T through rural-based business operations, like precision agriculture. 5G coverage aside, the incentives are currently lacking for providing comprehensive 4G LTE coverage across all major carriers.
This chart shows the estimated LTE coverage in rural vs. non-rural areas in the U.S. from December 2016.