Detailed new report reveals Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile's strongest 5G markets

Detailed new report reveals Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile's strongest 5G markets
If you're the kind of close wireless industry watcher who likes to keep an eye on the comprehensive market reports and speed tests regularly published by RootMetrics and Opensignal, you probably already know the former analytics firm recently released the preliminary results of its latest nationwide research.

Said study, aptly titled "US State of the Mobile Union 2H 2020", is out in full today, providing an incredibly detailed look at the regional strengths and weaknesses of the nation's big three carriers. 

After handing out all seven top prizes of last year's July - December 2020 period to the mobile network operator that just so happens to have the largest customer base out there, RootMetrics is mainly putting the spotlight on AT&T and T-Mobile this time around, emphasizing their own crucial contribution to the industry's steady recent progress in terms of both speeds and coverage.

AT&T delivers "encouraging 5G results and an expanded 5G footprint"


While many experts seem to largely ignore Ma Bell's name (and nickname) when predicting future 5G market trends and evaluating early breakthroughs in this field, the carrier appears to have quietly improved both the speed and availability of its still-fledging 5G service in a lot of places.

Compared to the first half of 2020, when AT&T's 5G signal was only available in 78 "major metropolitan markets" across the US, RootMetrics testers were able to connect to a next-gen network in 106 of the 125 big cities they visited during the year's last six months. Of those, a decent 18 markets saw excellent 5G median download figures of 60 Mbps or higher, with Kansas City, Missouri setting an impressive 94.8 Mbps record.


Keep in mind that AT&T offers 5G speeds using both super-advanced mmWave technology and slower low-band spectrum, the latter of which explains how the carrier managed to surpass 50 percent 5G availability in a grand total of 33 cities, compared to a whopping 57 for T-Mobile but only 10 as far as Verizon is concerned.

Perhaps AT&T's greatest H2 2020 achievement, however, are the 14 cities where its overall median download speeds (calculated taking both 5G and 4G LTE connectivity into account) exceeded 50 Mbps. That's slightly lower than the 20 cities where Verizon pulled off the same feat, but believe it or not, T-Mobile couldn't get to the 50 Mbps average mark in a single major market assessed by RootMetrics for the purposes of this in-depth report.

T-Mobile remains the unrivaled 5G availability champion


Water is wet, grass is green, and Magenta's 5G coverage is second to none in the US, even after Verizon's own "nationwide" low-band rollout. Unfortunately for the "Un-carrier's" hardcore fans, it's pretty difficult to defend the fact that "most of" T-Mo's 5G median download speeds were similar to its 4G LTE scores.


Of course, some of the nearly 3 million tests performed in the second half of 2020 came when Sprint's former mid-band 5G spectrum was still in the process of being redeployed and integrated into the "New T-Mobile" network, but all things considered, there's a long way to go before the nation's 5G availability champ can also dominate the speed chart.

Until then, T-Mo was barely able to cross the 60 Mbps 5G mark in five cities, including Fayetteville, North Carolina, where the 5G median download speed reached a record 88 Mbps.

Verizon also made great 5G availability progress


In addition to defeating its arch-rivals in the overall reliability, accessibility, speed, data, and call departments and tying AT&T for the nationwide text crown, Big Red saw a huge boost in 5G availability thanks to its highly publicized (and oft-derided) DSS launch of October. All in all, 34 cities got at least 30 percent 5G availability by the end of the year, which is certainly not a bad start.


Obviously, Verizon's best 5G download speeds were recorded in places where the aforementioned low-band signal was unavailable, like Houston, which delivered an absolutely mind-blowing 223.1 Mbps average... with only 0.3 percent coverage. Meanwhile, Verizon managed to strike an excellent balance of 68.9 Mbps 5G speeds and 42.8 percent availability without using mmWave spectrum in Washington, D.C.

Incredibly enough, Big Red produced a higher 72 Mbps score in New York exclusively on 4G LTE. AT&T and T-Mobile's top 4G LTE results, by the way, were registered in Charlotte, North Carolina and Ann Arbor, Michigan respectively.

 

Last but not least, you might be interested to know AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon's best 5G availability figures were posted in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Wichita, Kansas, and Lansing, Michigan respectively.

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