T-Mobile has taken the 5G speed crown from Verizon, according to OpenSignal’s latest report.
T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T are rolling out their 5G networks as fast as possible. Each company, however, has approached the rollout differently, based largely on the spectrum they had available.
T-Mobile was the first to roll out its nationwide network, using its low-band 600 MHz spectrum. The company also rolled out its high-band mmWave in cities and urban areas. Once the company completed its acquisition of Sprint, it started rolling out Sprint’s mid-band spectrum — considered the sweet spot for 5G — to bridge the gap between its nationwide and high-band networks.
AT&T was second with a nationwide network, while also rolling out its own mmWave in more populated areas.
Verizon, on the other hand, focused almost exclusively on its mmWave network in the initial stages. This was because the company did not have enough mid-band spectrum to use. Similarly, the company’s low-band spectrum was tied up with its 4G LTE network. As a result, because mmWave is the fastest variety of 5G, Verizon maintained a healthy lead in 5G speed…at least until now.
According to OpenSignal’s latest report, T-Mobile’s average 5G download speeds were 58.1 Mbps, as opposed to AT&T’s 53.8 and Verizon’s 47.4 Mbps.
Much of the change was due to two factors:
1) T-Mobile’s rollout of mid-band spectrum has significantly raised its average 5G speeds. While low-band may have the best coverage, its speed is only marginally faster than 4G. Mid-band, in contrast, can reach speeds of 1 Gbps.
2) Verizon’s rollout of its own nationwide network has hurt its average speed. This is largely because the company has had to use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) to share its 700 MHz spectrum between its 4G and nationwide 5G network. DSS essentially repurposes unused slivers of 4G spectrum to serve 5G devices connected to the tower. Unfortunately for Verizon, because DSS is not as good a solution as having dedicated spectrum, many have found the company’s nationwide 5G is actually slower than its 4G.
5G overage also improved for all three carriers. T-Mobile once again leads the pack, with 30.1% availability. AT&T’s 5G was available 18.8% of the time. Verizon saw the biggest jump to 9.5%. While significantly less than its competitors, it’s a huge improvement over the previous 0.4% availability.
T-Mobile is clearly the company to beat in the 5G race, and OpenSignal’s newest report is just the latest evidence of that.