AT&T and Verizon have the fastest 5G speeds, but Sprint has the broadest 5G coverage in three key markets, according to a new 5G speeds and coverage report from RootMetrics by IHS Markit. The report was based on performance testing in Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas, three key 5G markets.
AT&T delivered the fastest 5G median download speed among all carriers across all three cities, at 256.1 Mbps in Dallas, while Verizon was the only carrier to deliver a 5G maximum download speed faster than 1 Gbps, delivering a speed of 1.1 Gbps in Chicago.
Most of RootMetrics download tests were recorded on non-5G mode in each city, indicating relatively sparse 5G coverage. The exception was Sprint, which has a fairly widespread 5G network in Chicago. The carrier’s 5G coverage was comparable to its LTE coverage in the city, according to the researchers.
The research firm pointed out that mobile network operators often choose to launch 5G only in certain areas of a city and/or may target very specific audience segments, such as enterprise customers, during the early stages of a roll-out — it can often take months or even a few years for network technologies to realize their full potential for end users.
“The 5G era in the U.S. has begun, and the speeds we found during our early testing in Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas were quite promising. Verizon, in particular, stood out with its 5G maximum download speed of 1.1 Gbps in Chicago, which was the fastest speed we’ve ever recorded in the US on any network technology,” said Francis Sideco, vice president, technology at IHS Markit, in a prepared statement. “While the speeds we recorded during initial 5G testing showed potential for the future of 5G, our results also suggest that there’s still work to be done before consumers experience the incredibly fast speeds of 5G on a daily basis. With the exception of Sprint, the 5G availability rates we found were low across the board. ”