Verizon and T-Mobile are simultaneously the world's best and worst 'leading' 5G operators
After releasing several reports depicting the US wireless landscape in a pretty unflattering light, Opensignal has finally managed to put together some data that highlights the strengths of two of the nation's major mobile network operators in comparison with other big global carriers in the relatively early stages of the world's transition from 4G LTE to 5G connectivity.
As you can imagine after seeing the US ranked dead last among G7 countries when it comes to an important indicator of the overall mobile network experience and regional 5G download speeds still trailing Wi-Fi largely because of T-Mobile and AT&T's initial focus on low-band spectrum, the latest research is not all rosy for the land of the free... and the home of messy 5G rollouts.
But in setting out to "quantify the global 5G experience across ten operators", Opensignal discovered that one US wireless service provider rose above the pack in all three measurements based on data collected between January 31 and April 30, 2020. Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), we're not talking about the same carrier.
Verizon's 5G speeds blow the global competition out of the water
While Big Red's crushing advantage over AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile is already well established and thoroughly documented, you might be shocked to see America's largest cellular company easily defeat everyone from South Korea's three big wireless carriers to Australia's Telstra and both EE and Vodafone in the UK in terms of average 5G download speed.
Verizon's closest opponent is one of the leading forces of the South Korean market, a country repeatedly praised by industry pundits and analytics firms for its impressively early and wide-scale 5G deployment putting Samsung and LG's homeland at the forefront of the next wireless revolution.
Of course, the reason why Verizon holds such a massive lead over everyone else in this hierarchy is quite simple, emphasizing yet again the key weakness of the US wireless giant's unconventional 5G rollout strategy. Big Red is the only operator on Opensignal's list of ten "leading" 5G players to have exclusively employed mmWave spectrum so far.
This state-of-the-art technology allowed speeds to increase no less than 18.4 times (!!!) compared to the carrier's average 4G LTE numbers, but as the next graph will prove (for the umpteenth time), said mind-blowing surge is largely meaningless for the vast majority of Verizon customers right now.
T-Mobile is on top of the world when it comes to 5G availability
Another regional US achievement that you may not have realized holds up on a global scale too is Magenta's extraordinary (and extraordinarily early) 5G network penetration. We're not just talking geographical coverage, mind you, but also how many people can actually acquire a 5G signal and how much time they typically spend connected to the blazing moderately fast new network.
It's important to point out that Sprint didn't exactly shine in Opensignal's latest measurements, nonetheless surpassing five out of its nine major global rivals in terms of 5G availability while delivering very close download speeds to the likes of Great Britain's Vodafone and EE. That puts "New T-Mobile" in a splendid position for short-term speed and availability improvements facilitated by combining low and mid-band spectrum in a way Verizon and AT&T might not be able to replicate for many years to come.
Speaking of AT&T, it's certainly disappointing to see the nation's second-largest wireless service provider rank second... to last in average 5G download speeds, as well as sixth overall as far as 5G availability is concerned. In a way, the latter result is even harder to defend and understand than the former, as AT&T initially focused primarily on low-band 5G rollouts, just like T-Mobile, ending up ranked behind Sprint, whose mid-band spectrum is theoretically less competent at covering a large surface.
As for Verizon, we can't say we're shocked by that pitiful 0.5 percent availability score, but that doesn't make the carrier's 5G rollout strategy any less depressing. Mind you, that doesn't mean 0.5 percent of all Verizon users can currently access its super-high-speed mmWave network, but rather that the operator's 5G users spend 0.5 percent of their time surfing the web and streaming content at 5G speeds while almost always having to settle for 4G LTE connectivity instead.