With mobile network operators selling different 5G services operating across low, mid, and high-band spectrum, the level of service that customers can expect varies a great deal, and a new report from mobile testing company, Opensignal, has compared 5G speeds across the US, UK, Australia, and South Korea.
Opensignal looked at how the 5G experience compares in four countries, across 10 5G operators, all of which launched 5G services over six months ago. And the results revealed that one company is head-and-shoulders above the competition: Verizon.
In Opensignal’s 5G analysis all 10 operators saw much faster speeds for their users on 5G compared with 4G, with speeds between 18.4 times and 1.7 times faster on 5G. But there was a massive variation in the average 5G download speeds for each operator, with results ranging between 506.1Mbps on Verizon, down to 47Mbps on T-Mobile US.
The time that users spent connected to 5G also varied greatly between operators, with the top network being T-Mobile US, at 19.8%, which illustrates that the company – as it has stated – is focussed on getting the broadest possible coverage, whereas Verizon gets bragging rights over the fastest connection, thanks to its commitment to high-band mmWave 5G.
Of the ten operators Opensignal analyzed, Verizon was the only one to exclusively use mmWave spectrum, which accounted for its extremely high 5G speed. Conversely, the two operators with the slowest 5G speeds primarily relied upon low-band spectrum re-purposed from 4G services — 600Mhz for T-Mobile US and 850Mhz for AT&T — which offered extremely good coverage, but less capacity and slower average speeds.
All the other operators on test relied on mid-band spectrum for their 5G services, according to Opensignal. Although Australia’s Telstra, all three of South Korea’s operators, Sprint in the US, and EE and Vodafone in the UK, have all deployed 5G on mid-band spectrum, speeds differed greatly, from well over 200Mbps on all three Korean operators, to 114.2 Mbps on Sprint.
A major reason for these broad results is down to the amount of available spectrum in each country, and each network operators spectrum allocation. When it comes to spectrum, wider channels are better – ideally, 100Mhz in a single 5G band — but there were other factors, too, such as the capacity of the onward connection from each cell site and core network performance.
When reviewing the results, it’s important to remember that speed is just on factor, when it comes to measuring your 5G experience.
And T-Mobile US can take a lot of heart from the fact that its users spent the most time connected to 5G globally, with availability at 19.8% (followed by all three South Korean operators, ranging from 15.4% to 12.6%). In contrast, Verizon's 5G connectivity came in at under one percent.