USA

5G User Experience Report
June 2020

Opensignal is the independent global standard for analyzing consumer mobile experience. Our industry reports are the definitive guide to understanding the true experience consumers receive on wireless networks.

Author
Ian Fogg VP Analysis

Key findings

Verizon wins the 5G Download Speed award with 494.7 Mbps real-world average speed

Our Verizon 5G users saw much faster 5G speeds than 5G users on any other U.S. carrier. Their speeds were almost ten times faster than our 5G speeds on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Verizon's 5G users experienced the fastest average 5G speeds that Opensignal has seen to date on any carrier around the world.

AT&T and Verizon tie in the overall download speed that their 5G users enjoy

AT&T's and Verizon's users see a combined speed of 42.6 Mbps and 41.0 Mbps respectively which is a statistical tie. This means that these two carriers have jointly won the Download Speed Experience – 5G Users award. The award represents the complete average download speed experience of 5G users. It takes into account the average 4G Download Speed that 5G users see, as well as their actual 5G Download Speed using a 5G connection, as well as the amount of time they are connected to each type of network. Together, these measurements reveal 5G users' overall download speed experience.

T-Mobile wins the 5G Availability award, as its 5G users spend 22.5% of time connected to 5G

The time connected to a 5G service is extremely important if users are to enjoy all of 5G's benefits. In the U.S., T-Mobile won the 5G Availability award by a large margin with Sprint and AT&T trailing with scores of 14.1% and 10.3%, respectively. Verizon users saw their extremely fast 5G service 0.4% of the time because of the limited geographical reach of the mmWave wireless technology Verizon currently relies upon for 5G and the early stage of the 5G deployment.

Sprint's 5G users' experience is already changing as new T-Mobile combines its network capabilities

When we previously looked at the 5G Download Speed of Sprint's users some time ago we saw average 5G speeds of 114.2 Mbps reflecting the mid-band 5G wireless spectrum Sprint relied upon. But following the completion of T-Mobile's acquisition of Sprint, the new T-Mobile is starting to provide Sprint 5G users with access to old T-Mobile's 600MHz spectrum and so average 5G speeds are now 49.5 Mbps but 5G Availability has risen from 10.3% to 14.1% of time. T-Mobile is still in the process of merging its original network with Sprint and we expect the mobile network experience of Sprint users will continue to change for some time.

Introduction

The U.S. is one of the leading 5G markets globally with users on different U.S. operators enjoying extremely fast 5G speeds or sizable amounts of time connected to 5G technology. However, U.S. carriers are using different types of wireless spectrum compared to carriers in other countries which means the 5G experience in the U.S. varies dramatically from one operator to another.

The U.S. was extremely early to launch 5G services. Like operators in South Korea, U.S. operators first launched 5G services for smartphone users in April 2019. Now, just over a year since 5G arrived, Opensignal is analyzing the real-world experience of 5G smartphone users in the U.S. to see how the experience stacks up.

While carriers in other countries mostly use new mid-band wireless spectrum for 5G, U.S, carriers have had to take a different approach because that 3.5Ghz spectrum was unavailable and being used by other services. However, this will soon change as The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is preparing to auction mid-band spectrum later this year. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile launched 5G services using mmWave – the only commercial 5G mmWave services anywhere globally – while Sprint used spare spectrum on its existing 2.5Ghz mid-band.

However, the bulk of time AT&T and T-Mobile users see 5G they are actually connecting to low-band 850MHz or 600MHz spectrum rather than those carriers' mmWave-based 5G services. Those wireless frequencies are also used for 4G service and offer good reach but more modest speeds than the higher frequency 5G-only frequencies. What this means is that the current U.S. 5G experience is very different to other countries and also differs greatly between U.S. carriers.

For the first time, Opensignal presents 5G awards in the U.S. We have analyzed our 5G users' experience across three 5G measures: the average speed of the 5G connection when users have an active 5G link, or 5G Download Speed; the time users spend connected to 5G represented by 5G Availability; and the overall speed our 5G users experience across different generations of mobile technology, we call this Download Speed Experience – 5G Users. This last measure combines the average speeds that 5G users experience on 3G or 4G when they are not connected to 5G, with their average 5G speeds, based on the amount of time they spend connected to each generation of mobile network technology. Our 5G users have both a 5G smartphone and a 5G plan.

Opensignal Awards Table

5G Mobile Experience Awards, USA
June 2020, USA Report
5G Download Speed
5G Availability
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
June 2020, USA
5G Download Speed
5G Availability
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
June 2020, USA
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Download Speed
in Mbps
Verizon
494.7
T-Mobile
49.2
AT&T
60.8
Sprint
49.5
0 123.75 247.5 371.25 495
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Download Speed

Our U.S. users experienced average 5G Download Speed ranging from 494.7 Mbps on Verizon to 49.2 Mbps on T-Mobile. AT&T's users saw 5G speeds slightly faster than T-Mobile at 60.8 Mbps. These results indicate the real-world 5G speeds where our users had an active 5G connection. The results include tests across all of the locations where smartphone users spend their time, indoors or outdoors, at work or at home, in parks or in shops, or in transit between locations.

Opensignal's 5G results represent the end-to-end experience of users. We tested 5G Download Speed to the typical content delivery networks used to host popular mobile apps and websites.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
Verizon
494.7
T-Mobile
49.2
AT&T
60.8
Sprint
49.5
0 123.75 247.5 371.25 495
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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While our users on Verizon saw 5G speeds many times faster than users' 4G speeds, the difference was more modest on the other U.S. carriers. Verizon users' average 5G download speeds were 17.7 times faster than Verizon users' average 4G speeds, compared with 1.8 times faster for AT&T and Sprint, and 1.7 times faster for T-Mobile.

The large difference in the average 5G speeds are because of the different types of wireless spectrum each carrier is using. Verizon is exclusively using very high capacity mmWave for its current 5G service which enables very high average speeds but smaller reach. While AT&T and T-Mobile also have mmWave services, the vast majority of their users' 5G time is spent connected to 5G on lower spectrum bands where the reach is considerably better but the spectrum is not well-suited to extremely fast speeds.

The U.S. is a leading country for commercial 5G services using mmWave. Most other countries are using new mid-band spectrum around 3.5Ghz – which is not yet available for cellular use in the U.S. – this explains why the real-world 5G speeds we have measured across the world fell in between the results of our users on Verizon and the other U.S. carriers. Opensignal has to date seen average 5G speeds in the 120–240 Mbps range in Australia, South Korea and other European countries, where this new mid-band spectrum is used for 5G.

5G Availability

Having very fast average 5G download speeds is only useful when users have a 5G connection. Opensignal's 5G Availability compares the amount of time 5G users spend connected to 5G — the higher the percentage, the more time users on a network are connected to 5G.

T-Mobile wins the 5G Availability award with its users connecting on average to a 5G service for 22.5% of time which is much greater than the share of 5G in late 2019. The other carriers are a long way behind with T-Mobile-owned Sprint seeing 5G Availability of 14.1%, AT&T seeing 10.3% and Verizon users connecting to 5G 0.4% of time. The low score for Verizon is due to the type of mmWave 5G technology the carrier is currently using as well as the early stage of 5G deployments. Once Verizon starts to offer 5G on mid-band or other lower frequency spectrum, the 5G Availability of Verizon users will improve.

U.S. carriers are only in the early phase of the 5G era. Each carrier will deploy 5G on more kinds of wireless spectrum which will improve 5G Availability or increase the speeds that are possible. The new T-Mobile will continue to combine the network assets of old T-Mobile and Sprint. As carriers continue to roll out 5G during 2020, we will likely see significant changes to our 5G users' experience. Opensignal will continue to analyze the real-world 5G experience to see the impact on our users.

5G Availability
in %
Verizon
0.4
T-Mobile
22.5
AT&T
10.3
Sprint
14.1
0 6.25 12.5 18.75 25
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience – 5G Users

When a user upgrades to a 5G-capable smartphone using an operator's 5G price plan, they will want to be able to experience the fastest 5G connection speed. Opensignal's 5G Download Speed award compares the part of their mobile experience where they are connected to 5G.

However, it is just as important to understand the overall speed experience that a 5G user enjoys because they spend some of their time connected to 4G and, for now, a minority of time connected to a 5G service. This is what our Download Speed Experience – 5G Users measures. It takes into account the average 3G and 4G Download Speed that 5G users see, as well as their average 5G Download Speed and time connected to each type of network to reveal the overall download speed experience.

AT&T and Verizon jointly win the award for Download Speed Experience – 5G Users with scores that are statistically tied allowing for confidence intervals of 42.6 Mbps and 41.0 Mbps, respectively. While AT&T's 5G users enjoy only the second fastest 5G connection speed, the combination of their fast 4G experience, as well as the 10.3% of time they spent connected to 5G on average, and a second placed 5G Download Speed, has generated an overall score that is the same as Verizon 5G users. This dead heat happens despite the blisteringly fast speed 5G users on Verizon experience when they have an active 5G connection, because of the lesser time that Verizon users spend connected to 5G compared with AT&T's users.

Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
in Mbps
Verizon
41.0
T-Mobile
33.7
AT&T
42.6
Sprint
28.2
0 11.25 22.5 33.75 45
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Learn more

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks in the places they live, work and travel.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the true experience of smartphone users. Therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only.

For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars. In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

More about Methodology

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For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars.

In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

Why confidence intervals are vital in analyzing mobile network experience

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