T-Mobile flexes its standalone 5G muscle to hit a mind-blowing speed of nearly 5 Gbps

T-Mobile flexes its standalone 5G muscle to hit a mind-blowing speed of nearly 5 Gbps
According to the latest in-depth report conducted by Opensignal, T-Mobile users with 5G-enabled smartphones across the nation were able to squeeze out average download speeds of 118.7 Mbps between June 14 and September 11. 

While marking a large improvement over Magenta's numbers from previous quarters and absolutely obliterating the competition, that's still a pretty long way from what many people probably expected at the very dawn of the 5G era.

Do not try this at home

The 5G download averages are obviously worse in areas covered exclusively with low-band technology while rising significantly where you can get a mid-band signal and exploding on mmWave spectrum. No, T-Mo is not a complete stranger to the blazing fast mmWave tech that Verizon has tried so hard to popularize in the last couple of years, leveraging it to hit a 4.95 Gbps top speed recently.

Before getting too excited, you should note that we're apparently looking at the result of a data session conducted in a single and presumably carefully selected site in Southern California on a special "test device" of some sort using network gear provided by Ericsson with the clear purpose of highlighting the peak capabilities of T-Mo's ever-expanding and ever-improving 5G network.

In other words, any attempt of replicating or coming close to that bonkers speed score using even the best of the best 5G phones available today to the masses is likely to end in bitter disappointment.

In case you're wondering, Opensignal found T-Mobile capable of delivering average download speeds of 281.4 Mbps in the very rare instances when users could connect to mmWave 5G during the aforementioned timeframe. While obviously a lot higher than the sub-50 Mbps speeds almost always registered on low-band spectrum, that's unlikely to break the real-world 1 Gbps barrier anytime soon, let alone 2, 3, 4, or 5 Gbps.

Speaking of 5 Gbps, Verizon actually crossed that mmWave milestone more than a year ago in a controlled environment of its own (i.e. a lab), but what makes T-Mo's latest achievement that much more special is the use of standalone 5G technology.

T-Mobile customers are living in exciting times

Hailed as a huge industry breakthrough all the way back in August 2020, SA 5G has so far proven detrimental to the "Un-carrier's" low-band speed-enhancing efforts. That's right, Opensignal recently discovered the 600 MHz NSA (non-standalone access) download numbers are higher than their SA equivalents.

Of course, that merely proves T-Mobile chose to focus more on expanding the availability of its 5G service, with this new speed record possibly signaling an imminent change of strategy. As the name suggests, "standalone" 5G essentially means that 4G LTE is no longer involved in any shape or form, with non-standalone 5G instead still relying on the "outdated" cellular technology for network control functions.

What's perhaps most impressive about Magenta's near-5 Gbps download speed test result is that it actually derived from a combination of 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum and mmWave, utilizing 100 MHz of the former and 800 MHz of the latter to basically show us a glimpse of a not-so-distant future. A future, mind you, where T-Mobile could steadily deliver speeds of well over 1 Gbps for millions, nay, hundreds of millions of people. 

It's true, that market-leading Ultra Capacity (UC) 5G signal (theoretically) reaches 190 million people around the country already, and while only a tiny portion of those will likely ever know the full potential of mmWave technology, mid-band speeds are expected to continue growing at a healthy pace over the next few years.

Incredibly, T-Mobile is here showing Verizon it can compete with its mmWave 5G records while focusing a lot more on meaningful network upgrades for the vast majority of its own subscribers. Granted, it's not game over for Verizon and AT&T in the 5G arena yet, but it's getting harder and harder to consider this a close contest.

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