This is the fastest 5G wireless network right now

With the major wireless carriers racing to extend faster 5G service nationwide, T-Mobile has a decisive lead in coverage and average speeds, according to research firm OpenSignal.

T-Mobile users averaged 5G download speeds of 71.3 megabits per second, according to the report released on Tuesday, fast enough to download an album of songs in under one minute. Those speeds represented a 23% improvement from the findings of the previous report in January.

In contrast, AT&T users averaged significantly slower download speeds of 54.9 Mbps, while Verizon trailed at 47.7 Mbps. Neither company showed any improvement in speeds over the past three months, according to OpenSignal.

“Our T-Mobile users have seen an enormous improvement in their average 5G download speeds since our last reports,” OpenSignal noted. “T-Mobile is clearly gaining a 5G speed advantage based on their current 5G spectrum lead.”

The three major carriers are spending tens of billions of dollars to build superfast 5G networks, but many locations are still without coverage. For now, at least, T-Mobile leads in terms of network size with 125 million people having access to its fastest service. Meanwhile, Verizon’s speediest network covers only parts of 71 cities and AT&T’s just parts of 38 others.

T-Mobile’s lead is largely due to spectrum it gained when it merged with rival Sprint last year. This has allowed the combined company to undertake the most aggressive expansion of all the major carriers. It’s partially why Verizon and AT&T spent big at a government auction earlier this year for new airwave licenses. But the carriers can’t use those airwaves until at least the end of the year, because satellite companies must move off them.

In addition to adding fast 5G, all three carriers have rolled out a slower version of 5G nationwide. Although this service fills in where faster 5G is unavailable, it’s not much quicker than 4G LTE.

Another wrinkle in 5G’s buzz is that many consumers don’t yet have 5G-compatible phones. Furthermore, there aren’t many specialized apps that take advantage of 5G’s faster speeds, giving consumers little reason to fork out the money for those phones. Eventually, 5G networks could provide consistent download speeds 10 to 100 times as fast as an average 4G connection, allowing for new applications like mobile gaming in virtual reality and guiding connected cars in traffic.

While T-Mobile users enjoyed the fastest average download speeds, its customers didn’t necessarily get the best performance on mobile phones with particular streaming video or gaming apps, OpenSignal noted. Based on videos streamed from popular services, AT&T customers had the smoothest experience (rated at 65.2 on a 0 to 100 point scale), while Verizon ranked second at 63.2, and T-Mobile lagged at 56.5.

For gaming, OpenSignal monitored people playing real-time multiplayer mobile games and tracked delays caused by their wireless networks. Verizon, with a score of 78.5, was in a virtual tie for first place in this category with AT&T, which scored 78.4 on OpenSignal’s scale, while T-Mobile received a 68.1.

Unlike testing firms such as RootMetrics which use controlled measurements with identical hardware to rank wireless networks, OpenSignal relies on crowdsourced speed tests from its app installed on millions of phones. Data for the latest report came from tests performed from Dec. 15 through March 14.

The different methodologies have crowned different winners. In January, RootMetrics said Verizon had the best network.

In other findings from the report, T-Mobile customers who tested their phones with OpenSignal’s app spent more time on 5G than those of rivals. T-Mobile users were on 5G 33% of the time versus 21% for AT&T customers and just 11% for Verizon users.

Our mission to make business better is fueled by readers like you. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.

Read More

Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward