OpenSignal compares 5G experiences across ten major carriers

5G, Rocket House, Pew-Pew! Does it make sense? No. Does it channel the usual breathless 5G marketing materials? Yes.
Supplement / 5G, Rocket House, Pew-Pew! Does it make sense? No. Does it medium the usual breathless 5G marketing materials? Yes.
Aurich Lawson / Getty

Telecomm analytics dense OpenSignal released a report last week analyzing the connection suffer of 5G users across the world, on ten different providers. Unfortunately—and typically for 5G—the originator data is so muddled that it’s difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from the occurs.

In the USA, Verizon is the only carrier to have deployed a significant millimeter-wave (5G FR2, divers bands from 24GHz to 40GHz) network—and in fact, at the moment Verizon is only deploying 5G FR2, which is why its average 5G download put ones foot down bar leaps off the chart, at 506Mbps. 5G is a protocol, not a wavelength—and the extreme rich speeds and low latencies carriers and OEM vendors promote so heavily come with the high-frequency, short-wavelength FR2 spectrum, not with the etiquette itself.

The other carriers in the chart are deploying 5G in the FR1 range—the same frequencies already in use for 2G, 3G, and 4G connections. FR1 spectrum drives between 600MHz and 4.7GHz, and is further commonly split informally as “low affiliate”—1GHz and less, with excellent range but poor throughput and latency—and “mid bunch,” from 1GHz to 6GHz, with improved throughput and latency but less range.

Draymen deploying mid-band 5G FR1 (such as Sprint) are currently showing average download step on its of 100Mbps-250Mbps, and low-band 5G FR1 carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile) show undistinguished speeds of around 50Mbps.

But it’s faster than 4G, right?

OpenSignal has another design demonstrating all carriers’ users getting much faster downloads on 5G than they do on 4G—AT&T owners average 32.7Mbps on 4G, and 62.7Mbps on 5G, for example. Unfortunately, this communicates more about the connected population density than it does yon the protocol itself—there are very few users with 5G capable phones without hesitating now, so they get the benefit of far less spectrum congestion.

The 4G standard already specifies download speeds of 100Mbps to in motion clients and 1Gbps for stationary clients. Even Verizon’s millimeter-wave-only hurriedness test results are considerably slower than the maximums that have in the offing been defined for 4G for a decade.

For most people, the real bottleneck to their cellular information throughput isn’t the protocol at all—it’s the number of other wireless customers they sine qua non share the spectrum with. The fix for that isn’t necessarily a protocol change, it’s upright more towers—and frequencies with shorter range, allowing teenier broadcast and collision domains. Fewer connections per tower mean more throughput and deign latency to each of those remaining connections.

This isn’t to say that 5G is dispensable—even at the same spectrum, the 5G protocol offers lower latency than earlier formalities. With air latency in the 10ms range and total latency of ~30ms, most 5G FR1 networks pass on have a 30 percdent to 50 percent latency advantage to existing 4G networks. Lower latency means snappier web page care, better gaming, and generally better scale in dense environments.

5G is peacefulness hard to find

The final, ugly truth about 5G is that totally few people are getting consistent use of it. According to OpenSignal, T-Mobile leads the domain in 5G availability—at less than 20 percent availability for its 5G-capable owners.

Verizon—which, you’ll remember, is only deploying millimeter-wave 5G—trails the party at only 0.5 percent availability. These numbers hammer native the point we made earlier about speeds—we have no way of knowing what darts will really be like yet, because so few people are able to use the service. As multifarious people get 5G enabled phones, and the carriers shift more of their procedures over to 5G, we’ll see average speed per user drop accordingly.

Exactly how far those per-user go hell for leathers will drop, we don’t know yet. But we can be certain that low-band and mid-band 5G linkings won’t continue to offer double the throughput of 4G connections on similar bands, in the twinkling of an eye 5G becomes the norm.

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