Verizon vs T-Mobile vs AT&T: which 5G network is faster in these 5 big cities?

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After releasing countless reports aimed at evaluating the 5G and overall mobile network user experience at the national level in the last 18 months or so, OpenSignal is shifting its focus for the “first installment in a new series of insights into the current status of 5G in America.”

We’re talking Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington DC, five urban locations with a combined estimated population roughly on par with that of the Netherlands. In other words, there was a lot of data collected and analyzed for the purposes of this report, almost all of which pointed at one big winner among the three nationwide wireless service providers still standing after Sprint’s demise.

Five cities, five clear wins for Verizon

If you’re the least bit familiar with today’s convoluted US wireless landscape, you may already know the mmWave technology adopted by Verizon for its first wave of 5G rollouts has a lot of flaws. At the same time, we’ve seen many scientific tests (and we’ve even conducted a few non-scientific measurements of our own) highlighting Big Red’s huge advantage over the competition… where its 5G Ultra Wideband signal is actually available.

Unsurprisingly, OpenSignal’s latest “download speed experience” assessment yields the same exact conclusion across all the five areas surveyed in the aforementioned five-month timeframe. If you’re lucky enough to live in downtown Atlanta, Houston, LA, NYC, or DC and own a compatible device, there’s absolutely no question which of the top three carriers is right for you.

Verizon’s average (!!!) 5G numbers in these five cities ranged from 338 Mbps in Washington DC to more than 500 Mbps in Atlanta, completely crushing the otherwise decent results (at least compared to 4G LTE scores just a couple of years ago) delivered by T-Mobile and AT&T. We’re talking speeds that are over three times higher across the board, including a mind-blowing 6x and 7x edge over T-Mo and AT&T respectively in Washington DC.
Of course, the comparison is not entirely fair without taking any availability data into consideration or exploring how much time Verizon customers actually spend connected to a 5G tower. Big Red’s 5G download numbers are also expected to take a massive hit now that the carrier has joined the low-band 5G game, providing a significantly slower signal “nationwide” in addition to the blazing fast but spotty Ultra Wideband service.

T-Mobile is the 5G upload champion, also making great download progress

Unlike Verizon, which foolishly placed all its 5G eggs in one basket… until last month, T-Mobile envisioned its next-gen cellular network as a three-layer cake right off the bat. While the “Un-carrier” initially focused mainly on the low-band backbone of this 5G network, mmWave spectrum was also deployed in select cities relatively quickly, followed by incredibly fast mid-band rollouts in the wake of the essential Sprint merger.

By striking an almost perfect balance between speed and coverage, mid-band technology is widely considered the key to T-Mo’s potential road to industry leader. For the time being, Sprint’s spectrum undoubtedly helped Magenta defeat Ma Bell in all five of these latest 5G download speed battles, which is likely to contribute to a dramatic national improvement as well in OpenSignal’s next report of that sort.

Meanwhile, it’s definitely interesting to point out that Verizon’s clear 5G download speed advantage doesn’t translate into a similar 5G upload speed dominance across the five US cities’ downtown areas evaluated by OpenSignal.

If anything, T-Mobile holds a narrow overall lead over its arch-rivals, dominating the charts in Atlanta and LA, statistically tying Verizon for first place in NYC and DC, and “statistically” sharing Houston’s 5G upload speed crown with AT&T.

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