US Carrier 5G Plans More Costly Than Other Countries, New Study Shows

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Verizon and AT&T are the two top-ranked US carriers. T-Mobile and Sprint will soon become the third supercarrier. Unfortunately, the big carrier 5G plans are far more costly than other countries, according to a new study.

Done by tech site PCMag, the study looked at fifteen carriers globally, including the Big Four in the US (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint). Telstra (Australia), Elisa (Finland), TIM (Italy), KT, LG UPlus, and SKT (Korea), Vodafone (Spain), Sunrise and Swisscom (Switzerland), and EE and Vodafone (UK) were also examined for the 5G plan study.

The results of the study show that the United States has the most expensive 5G service plans of all fifteen carriers globally. While the other eleven carriers charge less than $1 per GB for 5G data, US carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile are charging $4+ per GB. Big Red carrier Verizon charges less than AT&T or T-Mobile but offers less 5G data (50GB on a 5G hotspot plan). Sprint offers the most affordable and generous 5G data plan of all the Big Four in the States with 100GB of hotspot data. T-Mobile offers high pricing on its data with a mere 20GB of hotspot data. AT&T performs the worst of the Big Four, with a mere 15-20GB of 5G data for $70-$90, available only to business customers and not the general public.

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A second disturbing trend was found. Mid-band carriers (Sprint only in the US) who don't have as much spectrum as millimeter-wave carriers (mmWave) offer better service plans with more data than millimeter-wave carriers who have more spectrum and could offer more 5G data. Verizon runs on millimeter-wave spectrum, and it has eight times the amount of 5G spectrum Sprint does. And yet, Sprint charges far less per GB than Verizon does while running on the smaller mid-band spectrum allotment. In contrast, Sunrise and Swisscom in Switzerland are giving unlimited 5G plans while running on mid-band spectrum.

It is said that mid-band spectrum uses existing 4G networks to operate, so perhaps mid-band carriers can charge less and offer more. And yet, millimeter wave spectrum is end-to-end 5G, but charges more. It's also been said that 5G is designed to usher in a change in the wireless industry, where prices are more inexpensive than ever. If that's true, though, there's no way to explain why AT&T and T-Mobile are charging so much per GB than the rest of the industry. There's also no way to explain why the Big Four can't offer larger 5G data allotments than they do.

US carrier 5G plans are far below expectation and demand, and aren't logical when looking at the rest of the world. Data speeds in other countries are far faster than data speeds in the US, yet faster data is cheaper elsewhere while slower data here is far more expensive. It just seems as though US carriers in general are more concerned about making money and churning a profit for their businesses than offering generous data allotments at generous prices.

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For example, the New T-Mobile, consisting of the Magenta carrier and majority Softbank-owned Sprint, has promised the FCC and DoJ that it would not raise 5G plan prices for three years post-merger. The unfortunate thing about such promises is that Magenta won't make any promises about 5G pricing after the promised three years because, despite how convenient it is to keep prices where they are, most carriers in the US increase pricing after such a span of time.

When looking at the chart of the fifteen global carriers, it becomes obvious that, if other carriers around the world can offer more generous data allotments, there's very little holding AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile back. And millimeter-wave carriers with more spectrum to spare can be more generous; it doesn't cost them much. Their decision to be "data misers" while charging exorbitantly is done more out of greed than typical business practices.