Verizon disappoints, AT&T surprises, and T-Mobile shines in new 5G speed tests


If you've been following the gradual, scattered, and messy US 5G rollouts of the past year or so, you probably already know the nation's major wireless service providers have adopted radically different strategies in their efforts to swiftly improve mobile connectivity in a meaningful way.

But because the groundbreaking cellular technology remains a huge challenge from both an implementation standpoint as far as carriers are concerned and in terms of the actual consumers' understanding of the entire network integration and upgrade processes, it's certainly nice to see analytics firms like Opensignal and RootMetrics continue to evaluate the performance, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each of the nation's big four mobile phone operators in the early stages of the 5G revolution.

This obviously helps us better grasp the real-world effects and consequences of those radically different 5G deployment strategies, and just like last week or a couple of months ago, the latest comprehensive report put together by one of the two aforementioned mobile network testing companies doesn't yield a single winner across the board.


AT&T is Manhattan's somewhat surprising speed champion

While almost every single research paper focused on top US 5G speeds lately has proclaimed Verizon the nation's undisputed heavyweight champion, AT&T unexpectedly runs circles around its arch-rival in these fresh new Manhattan tests.

We're talking a massive advantage over Big Red in both median and maximum download speeds on mmWave spectrum, as well as a slight edge over T-Mobile and Sprint in low-band 5G median and maximum download speeds.

Verizon's 5G network, mind you, is composed entirely of high-band mmWave technology, whose sole purpose is to deliver astonishing speeds in densely populated places like Manhattan, New York City. 


Of course, it's important to remember Big Red's 4G LTE numbers are often comparable and sometimes even better than the competition's low-band 5G speeds, which should make this otherwise humiliating defeat a little easier to swallow.


T-Mobile's approach is already paying off big time


In case you're wondering why RootMetrics chose to specifically conduct these measurements in Manhattan, the answer is pretty simple - New York City is still the only place where T-Mobile's so-called 5G "layer cake" is currently available. 

That essentially means the "Un-carrier's" customers can get access to all three 5G flavors in the "Big Apple", enjoying the insane speeds made possible by the most sophisticated cellular technology... with major availability limitations, as well as the unrivaled low-band coverage and the best of both worlds with 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum.

This middle layer aims to strike a balance between 5G availability and speeds, and although T-Mobile is still not done integrating the technology following the completion of its Sprint acquisition, the early numbers look remarkable. It's almost as if Magenta doesn't need mmWave spectrum at all to eclipse Verizon and AT&T when it comes to offering meaningful network upgrades for a substantial number of end users.


It's also important to highlight how much faster T-Mo's mid-band 5G network is compared to the same exact technology employed by Sprint prior to the aforementioned merger. The "Now Network", by the way, will continue to be evaluated separately from its new owner until their resources and spectrum are "fully integrated" and combined, which may take a few more months.


Last but not least, we should point out Magenta's mmWave 5G speeds are actually not bad at all when considering the advantage Verizon and AT&T currently hold in terms of owning that particular type of spectrum. 

It will naturally be interesting to see how these networks continue to evolve and improve in the near future, as T-Mobile plans to buy and deploy more high-band spectrum to serve juicy "layer cakes" in other parts of the country, while AT&T and Verizon are expected to splash out on an upcoming mid-band auction to try to fix their most glaring flaws.

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