Latest Speed Test from Ookla shows T-Mobile’s 5G is still the fastest in the U.S.

In just one month, T-Mobile saw its median download speed in the U.S. increase by 29.64 Mbps. Ookla also notes that the pending acquisition of US Cellular’s wireless operations and some of its spectrum holdings will help T-Mobile increase its lead over Verizon and AT&T. The latter two firms have been working their C-band airwaves into their spectrum holdings improving both carrier’s 5G performance.

T-Mobile‘s median 5G download speed in March was 287.14Mbps which declined in May to 275.50Mbps. Verizon‘s median 5G download speed in March was 224.67Mbps, 22% slower than T-Mobile‘s median speed. AT&T’s March median 5G download speed was 145.36Mbps. T-Mobile continues to be innovative in this space. It conducted tests with Ericsson and Qualcomm using six carrier aggregation which combined two channels of each of its 2.5 GHz, PCS, and AWS spectrum to deliver download speeds greater than 3.6 Gbps.

Verizon had been delayed from using the C-band mid-range 5G spectrum it had purchased at auction because of it was creating interference at airports according to the FAA. But once the issue was addressed, Verizon was able to use its mid-band airwaves and its 5G performance picked up tremendously. By last August, both Verizon and AT&T were able to start using all of the C-band airwaves they won at auction in 2021 because the satellite operators who were using the spectrum went on “early vacation” giving the two wireless providers full access to this spectrum.
When it comes to streaming video over 5G, T-Mobile (82 points) and Verizon (80 points) give their subscribers nearly the same experience with AT&T (75) a distant third. Verizon (88) edges out T-Mobile (87) when it comes to 5G gaming experience with AT&T (84) in third.

Overall, the U.S. has moved up sharply from 20th place on Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, to reach 11th as of February 2024. The improvement was led by the availability of mid-band spectrum. You might wonder why mid-band is so important when it comes to U.S. 5G service. It was T-Mobile that figured this out first and the $26 billion purchase of Sprint was made to obtain Sprint’s holdings of valuable 2.5GHz spectrum. Mid-band spectrum travels greater distances than mmWave allowing more users to access it and while it is slower than mmWave spectrum. mid-band does deliver download data speeds about 10 times faster than low-band 5G (like 600MHz).

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