Major carriers have big 5G plans moving forward, and preliminary tests have shown that, yes, 5G is way faster
All four major U.S. carriers are officially in the 5G game. While AT&T appears to be leading the pack with the most cities deployed, it is clear that the entire 5G movement remains in its early stages. 5G has received some skepticism, but the carriers all have big 5G plans moving forward, and for the most part, preliminary tests have shown that, yes, 5G is significantly faster.
Take a look at how each carrier is playing the 5G game.
AT&T was the first to deploy mobile 5G in December of last year. The deployment was limited to sections of 12 cities and was on an invitation-only basis. Since then, using millimeter wave spectrum, AT&T has expanded its 5G offering to 21 cities, with the most recent deployment in New York City.
The company is offering 5G on the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot. The Galaxy S10 has a new feature called Intelligent Wi-Fi that, according to Samsung, “allows for an uninterrupted and safe connection by seamlessly switching between Wi-Fi and LTE.” There is talk of a second 5G handset from Samsung capable of supporting sub-6 GHz to be developed by the second half of 2019.
In terms of speed, an April download speed test clocked AT&T’s new millimeter wave 5G network in a Dallas at 1.3 Gbps and coverage reached about 600 feet from a cell site; an Atlanta test clocked in at more than 2 Gbps downlink throughput.
AT&T plans to expand 5G to 30 cities in the near future and to take 5G nationwide in the first half of 2020.
Also using its millimeter wave spectrum, Verizon has offered mobile 5G service in Chicago and Minneapolis since early April, and recently moved into the Denver, Providence, Washington DC, Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis and St. Paul markets. Verizon has the most options when it comes to devices, offering the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, and the Motorola moto z3 and z4 with 5G Moto Mod attachment.
Verizon has stated that users can expect average download speeds of 450 Mbps, with peak speeds of more than 1.5 Gbps and latency below 30 milliseconds. Initial tests revealed mixed speed results; however, most recent tests performed in May produced consistent download speeds of 1.3 Gbps.
Like AT&T, Verizon intends to expand 5G to 30 cities by the end of this year.
Sprint’s initial 5G launch was in May 2019 and included four cities. At this time, Sprint’s offering covers Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Kansas City, Missouri and most recently, Chicago. 5G is available on LG V50 ThinQ 5G and HTC 5G Hub, and Galaxy S10 5G.
Unlike competitors who are launching 5G with mmWave spectrum, Sprint is using its large mid-band 2.5 GHz holdings. However, despite less drastic speed improvements seen by other carries using millimeter wave, testing by CNET revealed that Sprint’s 5G signal remained consistently strong even blocks away from network infrastructure. Further, mid-band spectrum will allow signals to penetrate better and travel farther with those on the mmWave spectrum, which has experienced major drawbacks on this front.
According to Sprint’s website, the company will be expanding 5G coverage to more cities this summer.
T-Mobile launched in six cities—Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York—at the end of June with only one device offer, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G. The carrier is using 39 GHz mmWave in Las Vegas and 28 GHz in its five other markets.
Speed tests performed in early July in New York by the Verge’s Chris Welch showed peak speeds of about half as fast as the best results he saw in Chicago when using Verizon’s network. “But it’s still a clear jump from LTE when you’re in that 400 / 500 Mbps range,” Welch added. According to the same tests, T-Mobile’s 5G showed peak speeds of 529 Mbps.
T-Mobile has its sights set on nationwide coverage using low-band 600 MHz spectrum, and now that the merger with Sprint has been finalized, T-Mobile will have access to a significant amount of mid-band spectrum.
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