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Yet another study shows 5G can be disappointing, but changes could be coming

There’s no doubt that 5G technology is well and truly on the way, and it could eventually change the way we live. But we’re not there yet — and it turns out that we’re not even close. According to a new study from Speedcheck, real-world 5G speeds have been pretty disappointing so far, despite the promises of multi-gigabits-per-second results.

The study was conducted from October 1 to December 31 last year, and found that 5G download speeds across the U.S. were only around 2.7 times faster than 4G speeds — and were under 50 Mbps, on average. Not only that, but in some tests, 5G download speeds were actually slower than 4G speeds. In fact, in 1 out of 8 cities in the U.S., 4G proved faster than 5G, and in 31% of cities, 5G download speeds were either slower or only moderately faster than 4G.

Surprisingly enough, Sprint is the carrier with the fastest 5G download speeds. Sprint began merging with T-Mobile last year, and because the carrier was the only one to roll out the 2.5GHz midfrequency band, customers on Sprint could experience median download speeds of 59Mbps, which was 24% faster than the nationwide median. AT&T 5G came in second at 53Mbps, and T-Mobile 5G was third at 47Mbps.

This isn’t the first time that 5G in the U.S. has been found to be a little disappointing.

The study finds a few different reasons for the lack of fast 5G download speeds in the U.S. Chief among them are regulatory decisions, including the fact that it has taken so long for the Federal Communications Commission to auction off its C-band spectrum, or the spectrum between 3.4GHz and 4.2GHz. Other causes could be political tensions between the U.S. and China, as the China-based Huawei is a major supplier of 5G equipment.

This isn’t the first time that 5G in the U.S. has been found to be a little disappointing. In October, Open Signal published a study that found that 5G download speeds in the U.S. were slower than in 14 other countries.

It’s likely, however, that we’ll start to see some serious speed boosts over the next year. Verizon and AT&T spent billions to license midband spectrum in a recent auction, and since the study, T-Mobile has already started leveraging Sprint’s midband spectrum. Not only that, but all three of the major carriers are likely to continue rolling out their mmWave networks, which may actually offer much faster download speeds in highly populated areas.

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Christian de Looper
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