Download speed rises in the U.S., but it’s still slow compared to South Korea’s

We’re heading into a world of 5G connectivity, but as we do, it’s important not to forget about 4G. After all, LTE is expected to play a big role in mobile connectivity, even in a world with 5G, due largely to what is expected to be a slow nationwide rollout and the physical limitations of 5G tech. OpenSignal has published a new report on the mobile experience in a pre-5G world, noting that download speeds have seriously improved over the past year, but that there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Importantly, OpenSignal says that download speeds in the U.S. have risen more than 4Mbps over the past year — in the first quarter of 2018, download speeds sat at 17Mbps, while a year later they rose to 21.3Mbps. Of course, speeds range a lot depending on location — New Jersey achieved the fastest speeds, with 32.9Mbps, while Mississippi was slowest, coming in at 12.1Mbps. The likes of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Minnesota all also ranked pretty high.

Interestingly, it didn’t seem like a location’s closeness to tech impacted download speeds. California ranked 19th in download speed, despite being home to Silicon Valley. Washington came in at 16th, despite being home to Amazon and Microsoft.

Because of that, perhaps more important than state metrics are city metrics. As noted by OpenSignal, new tech normally rolls out to cities, not states — most of the major carriers have rolled out 5G to at least a few cities in the U.S. so far, with more expected in the next year. When it comes to the top cities in the U.S., Cleveland is the winner, coming in at 32.8Mbps, with Minneapolis and New York closely following.

Of course, a great internet connection isn’t only about download speeds. Latency is important too, as it makes for a much more responsive network. As things like cars get connected, latency will become more important — if there’s lag, it could delay cars being able to make decisions, which could lead to an accident. According to OpenSignal, latency today ranges from 44.1 milliseconds to 66.4ms; 5G is aimed at reducing latency to 1ms in the carriers’ core network, which is far more responsive.

OpenSignal also released its global report, noting that the U.S. ranked 30th in network speed, with its average of 21.3Mpbs. That makes it a slowpoke compared with South Korea’s 52.4Mbp. The U.S. ranks 5th in 4G availability, thanks to the fact that consumers have access to 4G networks 93 percent of the time.

As we head into a world of 5G, it’s expected that these figures will change significantly — though only time will tell if the rankings change.

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