T-Mobile boasts gigabit milestone paving the way for wide-scale high-speed 5G service
While gigabit speeds have been theoretically attainable in the US long before 5G became a commercial reality, it's still not easy to break the 1Gbps barrier in real-life use on a casual stroll around town.
Granted, Verizon and AT&T's mmWave-based 5G networks, the latter of which is marketed as 5G+ to not be confused with the carrier's low-band 5G service and its controversial 5G Evolution signal, are capable of delivering much higher top speeds than a gigabit per second both in theory and in reality. But said reality is only... real in tiny parts of large cities, and the blazing fast high-band signal can be easily blocked by buildings, trees, and even people.
Sprint's mid-band 5G signal is not hindered by such obstacles, traveling pretty far although not quite as far as T-Mobile's nationwide low-band technology. Together, many industry pundits and market analysts had expected these two to strike the perfect balance between coverage and speed, and while "New T-Mobile's" integration efforts are barely getting started, the early tests are considerably more encouraging than anyone could have anticipated.In contrast,
Who knew mid-band 5G could be so fast?
After announcing the long overdue completion of a merger that was almost two years in the making last month, T-Mo quickly deployed Sprint's mid-band spectrum in Philadelphia and New York City. Obviously, the network combination is far from completed and the user experience should be further improved in the next weeks and months, but believe it or not, 1 Gigabit/s speeds are already available in NYC... on mid-band 5G.
That psychological barrier came tumbling down in recent speed tests conducted by at least two different people, including one non-T-Mobile-employee. Of course, it's safe to assume average speeds are in fact significantly lower than that in Manhattan, where these results were recorded. In addition to that, the real-life numbers are likely to drop as more and more users start connecting to the budding network.
But this remains a monumental achievement on T-Mobile's part, far exceeding what Sprint was able to squeeze out of its mid-band 2.5GHz spectrum. We're talking a soon-to-be-discontinued network with an average nationwide 5G download speed of a little over 110 Mbps between January 31 and April 30, according to an in-depth OpenSignal report published just yesterday.
The same report produced an average score of more than 500 Mbps for Verizon, but Big Red's 5G network still has a huge availability problem that can only be solved by massively reducing those mind-blowing speeds.
Plenty of room for improvement in some places
Meanwhile, T-Mobile's 5G speeds are... frankly embarrassing in many cities (not to mention rural areas), but with the help of mid-band technology, it looks like those scores might increase by a lot more than previously expected.
In case you're wondering, yes, Magenta's incredible feat was achieved without employing any mmWave spectrum, which is the core of Verizon's flawed 5G strategy while sitting at the top of New T-Mobile's so-called "layer cake." Said "cake" will be gradually served to NYC residents in the next weeks, which guarantees even higher download speeds in certain parts of "The Big Apple."
More importantly, T-Mobile's amazing (and amazingly early) work integrating Sprint's mid-band 5G spectrum makes the dream of an ultra-high-speed cellular network for the masses suddenly feel like a realistic short-term hope in the US. We're still talking many months, possibly years here, but it's definitely nice to see exceptional download speeds are not synonymous with mmWave technology.