OpenSignal has analyzed the wold’s 12 leading 5G markets, and the US is nearly dead-last, in terms of 5G speed.
The United Kingdom took the spot as the country with the slowest 5G, averaging a mere 32.6 Mbps download. The US was second-worst, clocking in at 33.4 Mbps average download. Meanwhile, the top three countries were Saudi Arabia, Canada and South Korea, with 144.5, 90.4 and 75.6 Mbps download respectively.
In spite of taking the second-worst spot for speed, it wasn’t all bad news for the US. In terms of coverage, the US came in fifth place, behind Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Hong Kong and South Korea. The fact the US scored so high on coverage is even more impressive given the land mass of the US compared with the top four countries.
In fact, the reason for the impressive coverage the US enjoys is tied to its slower speed.
“The modest 5G Download Speeds in the U.S. are due to a combination of the limited amount of new mid-band 5G spectrum that is available and the popularity of low-band spectrum – T-Mobile’s 600MHz and AT&T’s 850MHz – which offer excellent availability and reach but lower average speeds than the 3.5GHz mid-band spectrum used as the main 5G band in every country outside of the U.S,” writes OpenSignal’s Ian Fogg.
As we have pointed out many times on WPN, low-band spectrum travels much farther and has better building penetration, compared to mid or high-band spectrum. The trade-off is speed that is only marginally better than 4G.
“The U.S. is much higher ranked on 5G Availability than on average download speed because the low-band spectrum is ideally suited to enable great 5G reach and allow users to spend more time connected than in countries with higher frequency 5G spectrum,” continues Fogg. “In the US the low-band 5G services of T-Mobile and AT&T have helped drive a high 5G Availability result. T-Mobile U.S.’s very recent launch of standalone access 5G — where a phone no longer needs to connect to 4G in order for 5G to work — should help 5G services in future.”