T-Mobile crucially contributes to decent US showing in new global 5G progress report

T-Mobile crucially contributes to decent US showing in new global 5G progress report
It's easy to lament the sorry state of US 5G mobile networks after more than a year of sluggish expansions, misleading advertising, confusing rollouts, small-scale launches, and especially modest speed upgrades, but not everyone seems to agree with the conclusions of one of OpenSignal's most recent in-depth reports, published less than a month ago.

While the nation was ranked dead last for "video experience" among the G7 group and 12th out of 20 "leading" 5G countries in terms of the overall "download speed experience" based on data collected between January and March 2020, OMDIA lists the US narrowly behind Switzerland in fourth place of its latest "5G progress" paper.

It's all about the methodology 


Instead of tracking things like download speeds or network latency, the global research company analyzed five different aspects helping it evaluate the progress made by wireless service providers in 22 "leading" 5G countries through the end of 2019. 

These factors include the total spectrum that was available to carriers for 5G use as of December, how many mobile network operators had launched next-gen commercial wireless services, what proportion of each nation's population was covered by a live 5G signal, the proportion of "total mobile services active" on 5G networks, and a "subjective assessment" of the "ecosystem" of public and private partners helping carriers enhance adoption and create "value from 5G services."


When all of that was taken into consideration, South Korea unsurprisingly came out on top, completely crushing silver medalist Kuwait and second runner-up Switzerland after also dominating OpenSignal's Q1 2020 5G speed chart. The affluent East Asian country scored big points not just in the coverage department, but also as far as take-up is concerned, with close to 4.7 million people on 5G already as of the end of last year.

Naturally, that's one key department where the US performed exceptionally poorly, but the coverage numbers boosted the nation's overall score above those of Qatar, the UK, China, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Canada, to only name a few.

There's obviously a perfectly reasonable explanation why the US scored such vastly different results in those two sections of OMDIA's analysis, which once again highlights T-Mobile's early 5G industry importance.

Could the US climb even higher in future rankings?


As you might remember, the "Un-carrier" did manage to deploy its "nationwide" 5G network before 2019 concluded, but there was clearly not enough time for many people to buy and actually start using T-Mo's very few compatible devices available back then. 

Things may have drastically changed in recent months, of course, as T-Mo not only expanded its low-band 5G signal further, also multiplying the number of 5G-enabled phones up for grabs right now.


As such, while it's definitely too early to try to anticipate how the next 5G progress report will look, it's pretty much guaranteed that the US will enhance that tiny gray square in Omdia's chart signifying regional 5G adoption by end users. 

Both the spectrum and coverage rectangles are also likely to grow in size in the near future, as Verizon plans to eventually offer its own nationwide low-band 5G signal. Meanwhile, T-Mobile is set to remain primarily focused on improving speeds by leveraging Sprint's mid-band spectrum and serving a "full layer cake" also including mmWave technology in more and more places.

Finally, AT&T is rarely cited as a 5G force to be reckoned with, but marketing shenanigans aside, "Ma Bell" has done some decent work of its own spreading both the low-band and high-band love in the past few months, which should also contribute to the nation's overall coverage boost in Omdia's next reports. All in all, while South Korea's crown is definitely not in any immediate jeopardy, we could absolutely see the US overtake Kuwait and Switzerland to rank second in "5G progress" by the end of 2020.

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