It’s a carrier face-off: who has the fastest 5G network? 5G is the fifth generation in wireless technology and will deliver the lowest latency and fastest speeds we’ve ever seen. This next-level technology packs a punch because not only does it make your phone faster, it will power a new world of possibilities including smart cities and factories, autonomous cars, enhanced VR and AR experiences and so much more. Carriers such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T are working tirelessly to get their 5G networks live and in constant competition with each other as they look to light up new cities with blazing-fast 5G coverage every quarter.
With all of the US carriers vying for the top spot for the best 5G network, the question must be asked, who has the fastest 5G network?
All fingers point to Verizon Network as the carrier with the fastest average 5G download speeds not just in the US, but across the globe. In a recent report from OpenSignal, the company’s FP of analysis, Ian Fogg, wrote, “Verizon wins the 5G Download Speed award with 494.7 Mbps real-world average speed.”
But as a carrier that’s not reached nationwide 5G coverage, why do they have the fastest network? Simple, their network runs on the millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum. The mmWave spectrum boasts the fastest 5G speeds available but comes with one major downside: it can’t travel far and requires small cells to be built everywhere so you don’t lose signal.
To create a 5G network, carriers are going to have to use a mix of low, mid, and high-band spectrum to deliver nationwide coverage. The mmWave spectrum is considered high-band, therefore it can deliver the blazing-fast speeds but the frequencies can only travel short distances. Because of this, you’ll likely see mmWave technology in concentrated urban areas, stadiums, and arenas. Think of mmWave as like a super-powered hotspot. The mid-band is a happy medium between the low and high-band and delivers faster speeds than the low-band while boasting more coverage than the high-band. It’s the perfect compromise between the two bands. The low-band delivers efficient coverage and can provide connections over long distances but cannot deliver the hyper-fast speeds 5G can deliver on the mmWave spectrum. It’s more or less the same speeds you could expect on your 4G networks since most 4G networks use this band.
In the report by OpenSignal, US carriers AT&T and T-Mobile took the last two spots out of the 10 carriers tested delivering 62.7 Mbps and 47.0 Mbps speeds, respectively whereas Verizon delivered a whopping 506.1 Mbps. Again, this is due primarily to Verizon building their 5G network almost exclusively on the mmWave spectrum and AT&T and T-Mobile relying on their low-band 5G networks built from their 4G services.
It’s worth noting that T-Mobile has the most mid-band spectrum across the US in part because of their merger with Sprint, where Sprint had owned a large portion of mid-band spectrum. We can expect to see T-Mobile rise in the ranks as they begin to roll out more mid-band spectrum, therefore, increasing their network speeds.
If you’re a subscriber of either T-Mobile or AT&T, you can still expect to see even low-band spectrum speeds deliver a faster experience than what’s available through a 4G network. OpenSignal compared the 5G speed tests against the carriers’ 4G networks and they were all much faster.
How Do I Know Which Carrier Has The Best 5G Network?
If you’re looking to find a carrier with the best 5G experience, there’s, unfortunately, no one right answer. It all comes down to which carrier has the phone you want and which has a plan that best suits you- all at a price you want to pay. Each carrier, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile will all deliver a better 5G experience through a multi-band strategy and will provide an all-around better performance than what you’ve got on 4G, so it all really boils down to personal preference.