OpenSignal is out with its latest report and it’s all about 5G. This report shows what we pretty much already know in the US. And that is the fact that Verizon has the best 5G speeds, while T-Mobile has the best 5G coverage – and ultimately the worst 5G speeds.
So how does something like this happen? With Verizon having an average download speed of 506.1Mbps and T-Mobile having 47.1Mbps, there’s a major gap between the two. Well, it all comes down to deployment. Most carriers are doing Sub-6 and/or mid-band spectrum right now. Which is more about coverage, whereas Verizon is starting with mmWave, which is more about speeds.
Sub-6 vs mmWave
By looking at the table below, you can tell which carriers are doing which deployments pretty easily. It’s quite obvious that Verizon is using mmWave for its 5G deployment. Which offers crazy fast speeds, but the coverage is horrible. And that is why Verizon is miles ahead of even the next closest competitors – which come from South Korea, no big surprise there.
mmWave is what is going to give 5G networks those gigabit speeds, which is good and all. And most carriers are going to roll out mmWave at some point. But most carriers are starting with the coverage. Which means either low-band or mid-band spectrum. That’s exactly what Sprint and T-Mobile were doing.
T-Mobile was able to roll out a nationwide 5G network all at once, because it used low-band for that network. That also explains why the speeds aren’t much better than 4G LTE. Because it’s using the same spectrum as 4G LTE. With the plan to move to mmWave later on, and build on that speed.
T-Mobile still only covers about 20% of users with 5G
Even though T-Mobile touts its 5G network as being nationwide, that isn’t quite true.
This report from OpenSignal shows that it only covers a little less than 20% of users. About 19.8% to be precise. That puts them at the top of the list. With SK Telecom, LG U+ and KT (all three from South Korea) hot on their tails.
Where does Verizon end up? Last on the list. They cover half a percentage of users. That is pretty low, but again this goes back to the Sub-6 vs mmWave debate. mmWave covers a lot less area than low and mid-band spectrum does. So while it offers crazy speeds, it won’t cover much space. And if the wind is blowing in the wrong way, forget about it.