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New report pits AT&T and Verizon's C-band 5G against T-Mobile's mid-band 5G


If you're the least bit familiar with the US 5G landscape and the various ways the nation's biggest mobile networks have evolved in the last few years, you probably already know that T-Mobile holds a crucial advantage over its arch-rivals.

We're talking, of course, about the mid-band 5G spectrum acquired from Sprint back in 2020, rapidly repurposed for its own use, and impressively expanded pretty much across the country to secure Magenta the number one spot in the world for 5G availability and 5G reach.


Excellent progress across the board

As a (belated) response to T-Mo's great 5G offensive of 2020 and 2021, Verizon and AT&T started a somewhat controversial C-band deployment early this year, repeatedly butting heads with airlines while gradually improving the download speeds of many of their customers in more and more cities.


The latest of several reports specifically analyzing the impact of these C-band launches on the 5G industry largely echoes the conclusions of its predecessors, highlighting all the big progress made by Verizon and (especially) AT&T between March and September 2022 while making it even clearer than before how hard it's going to be to catch up with T-Mobile.

That's right, the third-largest US wireless service provider (by subscribers) has managed to overcome its very timid start in the C-band field, leveraging this game-changing technology to boost its average 5G download speed figures by more than a third in September compared to March.


Perhaps more importantly, a decent 30 percent or so of Opensignal's AT&T 5G tests conducted in the July 1 - September 28 timeframe relied on the 3.7 GHz band (aka n77 or C-band), representing an absolutely massive hike from under 5 percent for the month of March.


Then again, that 29.9 percent share continues to pale in comparison with the 45.9 percent slice of the Verizon 5G pie and the mind-blowing 71.5 percent (!!!) accounted on T-Mobile's 5G network by mid-band readings.

Big Red, mind you, managed to come really close to the 50 percent threshold with its own mid-band 5G signal in September, exceeding for the first time its use of the considerably slower 850 MHz band (aka low-band 5G).


There can only be one winner

Curiously enough, Verizon's overall 5G download speed average didn't exactly shot through the roof last month, instead making slow and steady gains every month since March. It's worth pointing out, of course, that Big Red's 5G speeds are substantially higher than those on AT&T, so there was perhaps a little less room for improvement on the former network.

At the same time, although this particular Opensignal report leaves out T-Mobile's 5G download speed scores, all the analytics firm's recent tests suggest Verizon and AT&T have a loooooong way to go before challenging the national champ.


Back in July, for instance, Magenta ruled the 5G speed chart with a 171 Mbps download average, and if history is any indication, that number may have well surged in the meantime to beat Verizon's figure by at least 100 Mbps.

Both Verizon and AT&T can at least be proud of breaking the 100 Mbps barrier when looking strictly at C-band 5G download speeds, thus providing a huge upgrade over low-band technology for (a growing number of) fortunate users.

We're talking speeds that are at least three times higher than what's currently possible when relying on low-band spectrum, which should tell you everything you need to know about the importance of the C-band component of the two operators' 5G networks.

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