Last week, it was reported that 5G users in South Korea were filing a lawsuit against the country’s top three telecom operators because the network has been performing poorly. It turns out South Korean 5G users are not the only ones underwhelmed by 5G thus far—customers in the United States are still waiting for the fifth generation of wireless to deliver on its promises of faster speeds too, Forbes’ AJ Dellinger reports.
U.S. wireless carriers made some big promises about their respective 5G networks—it would be faster than broadband, let users stream high quality videos while they were on the move and lower latency. Unfortunately, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T’s 5G networks have yet to live up to the hype, according to Speedcheck’s research.
That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless for these carriers to deliver on their 5G network promises, however. It is just going to take longer than anticipated. Forbes reports that T-Mobile currently has 5G coverage in 36.7% of the U.S.—the most in the country. Meanwhile, AT&T’s 5G covers 16% of the U.S. and Verizon’s 5G network is currently available in a tenth of the U.S. Alaska is the currently the only state without any 5G coverage. While it’s impressive that the other 49 states have some sort of 5G, the network is mostly available in major, highly populated cities.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment surrounding 5G is that the network is only faster than 4G LTE networks on occasion. Until 5G can outpace 4G LTE on a consistent basis, customers will question if it’s worth it to upgrade. While Speedcheck noted that 5G networks’ download speeds were on average 2.7 times faster than 4G LTE and six times faster at their peak, it’s hard to get too excited when it isn’t happening every time. The 5G networks’ download speeds were slightly faster that their predecessor, or at times slower, in almost 30% of the cases, Forbes reports. Speedcheck found that 5G speeds were slower than 4G in 12% of its tests.
Was the bar set too high?
Maybe the reason 5G users in the U.S. and South Korea are underwhelmed by the network so far is because the targets were too far reaching. There were suggestions that 5G could provide speeds that are 600 times faster than a standard network and 10 times faster than a fiber Internet connection, according to Forbes. So far carriers have struggled to get their 5G networks to even triple 4G LTE speeds.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that regulators aren’t moving quickly enough to get carriers access to the frequencies they need to deploy 5G. The Federal Communications Commission’s recent C-Band spectrum auction could potentially help speed up that process however. However, spectrum clearing and other factors will take time to have all this C Band spectrum be integrated into the networks of all three carriers. T-Mobile who has all of Sprint’s prime 2.5 GHz spectrum is in the best position right now.
There have been several roadblocks along the way to 5G deployment, but the networks are expected to keep moving ahead, Dellinger wrote. There are no guarantees that any of the carriers’ networks will achieve 5G’s full potential by the end of this year, but they should be significantly improved in terms of reach and performance.
Joe Dyton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.