While companies like RootMetrics, OpenSignal, and Ookla have already analyzed the key distinctions between Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile's 5G
and 4G LTE networks
more times than this writer can count on the fingers of both hands this year alone, the latest in-depth report based on speed measurements conducted in the first half of 2020 does something differently.
The result is certainly a unique and interesting perspective on the industry's progress as a whole at the dawn of the 5G
era, with some surprising names ranked near the top of the nation's fastest cities list and some disappointing speed figures posted by a few of the cities theoretically considered the most important from a business perspective by all major wireless service providers.
Big doesn't necessarily mean fast
On paper, Los Angeles had everything going for it to shine brighter than almost any other US city in these extensive cellular speed tests performed between January 1 and June 30 (with a long hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the middle of that timeframe). Not only is L.A. just one of two cities where 5G was available from all big four carriers (including Sprint
) prior to July 1, but Verizon recorded an absolutely insane 254.7 Mbps 5G median download speed around those parts, naturally setting a national record.
Unfortunately, Big Red's 5G availability was... not great, while T-Mobile
's median download speed of 16.6 Mbps was a far cry from its arch-rival's overall 37.6 Mbps result, lowering the aggregate median download figure to a sub-par 30.2 Mbps. That was barely enough to secure the nation's second-most populous city the 83rd spot among the 125 major markets evaluated by RootMetrics, well behind the likes of Phoenix, Portland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and many more.
In contrast, the New York City and Tri-State Area, which leads the population chart with more than 18 million people under its belt, delivered a standout performance, ranking 12th overall thanks primarily to Verizon
and despite the fact that not all four carriers had managed to cover the "Big Apple" with a 5G signal.
In case you're wondering, Philadelphia was the other city besides Los Angeles where anyone could get access to 5G... at the right time and in the right place, with impressive results delivered primarily by AT&T and Verizon for a change. Philly is the rare combination of big and fast, ranking fifth in population and second in aggregate speeds, trailing only Baltimore from the latter standpoint and surpassing Cincinnati, Dayton, Fayetteville, Minneapolis, Cleveland, and Seattle among many others.
America's top tech cities are not all remarkably fast either
While Seattle and Washington, DC performed pretty well to end up neck and neck at the top of the 10 "tech cities" list assessed by RootMetrics with 47.4 and 46.2 Mbps aggregate median download speeds respectively, we can't say the same about San Jose, San Francisco, Provo, and especially Austin.
The gap between Provo, Utah and Austin, Texas in ninth and tenth place respectively in this chart was a staggering 8.8 Mbps, with the latter's 23.2 Mbps aggregate download score putting the city of over 1.3
million people in the 118th place all in all on a list including a grand total of 125 cities.
If you want someone to blame for that abysmal result, you should mainly point your finger at T-Mobile, while AT&T
is the number one reason why Austin managed to at least edge
out the likes of Stockton, Reno
, El Paso, and Antelope Valley.
You can check out the full rankings here
, including particularly disappointing scores for large cities like Memphis, Dallas, Tampa, Orlando, and Miami, and strong showings for small places like Harrisburg, Lansing, Lancaster, and Spokane.