New speed tests suggest Verizon's 5G and 4G LTE user experiences are 'extremely similar'

3
New speed tests suggest Verizon's 5G and 4G LTE user experiences are 'extremely similar'
There have been countless reports looking at the differences between the 5G speeds and coverage delivered by the largest US wireless service providers ever since we started talking about 4G LTE in the past tense, but the latest analysis conducted by Tutela focuses on something that seems to get far less attention.

From network researchers and analytics companies, that is, because we're pretty sure everyday consumers have been constantly wondering for the last year or so if the upgrade from a 4G LTE-only to a 5G-enabled smartphone is really worth it right now.

5G is the new 4G


In short, the answer seems to be "not really", at least for the time being and as far as Verizon customers are concerned. As some of you may already know, Big Red currently serves two wildly different flavors of 5G connectivity, only one of which however is truly accessible to the masses.

And while mmWave 5G would make a huge difference for folks switching from "outdated" 4G technology were it actually available on a remotely large scale, low-band 5G powered by something called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) is essentially as good (or as bad) as LTE.

The good news is that Verizon's 4G LTE network is still pretty darn great, having dominated the industry right from the start to allow the carrier to gain a massive advantage in subscribers over T-Mobile, which now looks like the major force to beat in the race to 5G supremacy.


Basically, Verizon can continue to rely on the 4G LTE component of its nationwide wireless infrastructure to keep the competition at bay in the short run. On the not so bright side of things, these types of reports are unlikely to help the nation-leading operator boost its 5G subscriber numbers, despite all those amazing promotions of the last few months aimed at doing just that.

In a nutshell, Tutela's conclusion after performing its latest speed tests is that there's little incentive for Verizon's 4G LTE users to jump on the 5G bandwagon... at the moment. That's because both 5G-capable and non-5G-capable mobile devices currently get "excellent consistent quality" most of the time in 10 "urban areas with mature 5G deployments."

There's a silver lining... and a bright future ahead


In other words, you should generally have no problem streaming video at 1080p quality, making group HD video calls, or playing multiplayer online games on the go whether you own, say, a 5G-enabled Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or a (deeply discounted) iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Both the overall user experience and median download speeds are deemed "extremely similar" between 4G LTE and 5G (DSS) technologies, which is definitely something to consider before deciding which of the best Verizon phone deals to choose right now if you're in the market for a new handset. 

Of course, 5G is still in the somewhat early stages of development and evolution, and once Big Red finally sinks its teeth into the mid-band spectrum acquired a little while ago, T-Mobile's lead in speed and coverage could start shaking. Verizon's impending C-Band deployment will undoubtedly provide meaningful benefits for millions and millions of people currently stuck settling for (great) 4G LTE and 4G LTE-like speeds.


Until that happens, Tutela did discover one benefit already enjoyed by many of Verizon's 5G customers compared to their 4G-restricted counterparts. Namely, speeds apparently tend to stay higher for longer periods of time when the network is congested if you're using one of the best 5G phones out there. 

Congestion typically happens weeknights from 7 to 11 pm, at least according to the carrier's own website, making it far more possible to see download speeds fall below the 1.5 Mbps threshold on a 4G LTE-only device.

FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless