T-Mobile and AT&T are largely to blame for another terrible US 5G speed report

T-Mobile and AT&T are largely to blame for another terrible US 5G speed report
Opensignal is an independent mobile analytics company known for its detailed and rigorous examinations of wireless networks around the world, and while many of its in-depth reports are focused on evaluating the user experience and carrier performance in key individual markets, the latest such study pits a grand total of 12 countries against one another in terms of the "real-world 5G experience."

Instead of simply selecting a dozen of nations at random, Opensignal chose to analyze some of the world's "leading 5G markets" using three big benchmarks, and unsurprisingly, the US performed very poorly on two of the three tests while ranking in the first half of the other chart.

That mirrors the conclusions of a number of previous reports conducted by several different market research and analytics firms, all of which highlighted the nation's 5G speed limitations and impressive availability figures. As usual, T-Mobile and AT&T deserve equal amounts of praise and criticism for this situation, having primarily focused on low-band 5G rollouts thus far.

The US is ahead of the UK in overall download speeds but not 5G download averages


Because it's still annoyingly difficult to acquire a 5G signal in many parts of even the world's leading 5G countries, the 5G users' overall download speed score best reflects the real-life wireless network experience right now.

 

This not only takes into account both average 5G and 4G download speeds, but also the actual time spent connected to each technology, yielding a final result of 33.4 Mbps stateside. As you might expect, that's light years behind the same numbers recorded in Saudi Arabia, Canada, South Korea, Australia, or Germany, nonetheless surpassing the UK's overall average download speed of 32.6 Mbps.

As proven by the average 5G download speed results across these 12 markets, that's largely caused by the weaknesses of the UK's 4G networks rather than the US 5G strengths. Due to T-Mobile and AT&T's insistence on low-band technology, which provides modest upgrades over existing 4G LTE infrastructure in terms of speeds, the land of the free finishes this competition dead last, with a 50.9 Mbps average score that's more than six and eight times worse than South Korea and Saudi Arabia's towering results respectively.


The difference is even more staggering if you consider Verizon's average 5G download speeds eclipse everything Opensignal has measured anywhere else in the world, which makes sense given that Big Red is the only major mobile network operator across these industry-leading markets to bet big on mmWave technology.

T-Mobile and AT&T make their crucial contribution to a solid 5G availability result


While Verizon is undoubtedly responsible for making an embarrassing average 5G download speed score slightly less embarrassing, its aforementioned mmWave focus might also be the main reason why the US is not ranked higher than fifth in 5G availability based on data collected between May 16 and August 14.

That's because Big Red subscribers can rarely connect to the blazing fast 5G Ultra Wideband network, retaining said signal with great difficulty, especially inside buildings and outside crowded areas at the heart of a small number of large cities.


Meanwhile, T-Mobile and AT&T are continuously expanding their already impressive 5G availability, theoretically covering hundreds of millions of American people. Of course, Opensignal is not measuring theoretical 5G availability, instead tracking the time spent by 5G users actually connected to a 5G network.

Although the US is still a long way behind countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from this standpoint as well, a recent T-Mobile breakthrough and an impending Verizon advancement could catapult the nation directly into first place in 5G availability while doing little to improve the average 5G download scores. For that to happen, T-Mobile will need to accelerate its mid-band integration efforts, which may however take quite a bit of time.

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