5G analysis shows C-band is helping Verizon, but it and AT&T are still trailing T-Mobile

The recent rollout of 5G by Verizon and AT&T could put them in a better position to compete with T-Mobile, which has rolled out similar technology for years, according to data from Opensignal. The company’s analysis showed that when Verizon activated its C-band equipment in January, its average 5G speeds jumped — and where carriers rolled out their new technology, they’re all achieving similar speeds.

When looking at average 5G download speeds for each carrier, there’s a sharp jump in Verizon’s numbers after the carrier brought its C-band equipment online in January. The increased speeds available to customers in the deployment area have boosted its average by about 15 megabits per second, according to Opensignal. Despite rolling out C-band, AT&T hasn’t experienced the same bump — likely because its launch only covered “eight metro areas,” according to the carrier (although it promises to expand throughout 2022 ).

There was a noticeable change when Verizon enabled its C-band network.
Chart: Opensignal

T-Mobile is, of course, significantly ahead. That’s because Opensignal’s average speeds take into account both those with a fast midband and those without. In January, Verizon said more than 100 million people would have access to its C-band service. T-Mobile said mid-band covered more than 210 million at that time, which obviously helps its average numbers. significantly – there are fewer people without mid-band coverage, reducing average speeds.

Verizon and AT&T seem much more competitive in places where the midrange is deployed.
Chart: Opensignal

However, when Opensignal reduced the range at average 5G download speeds, the speed differences between carriers became much smaller. T-Mobile is still on top, with its more mature network delivering 225.5 Mbps on average, but Verizon’s C-band isn’t too far off at 211.8 Mbps. AT&T is a little further behind, averaging around 160 Mbps, even on C-band. AT&T and T-Mobile’s average download speeds are around 18 Mbps, while Verizon stands out. , with an average of almost 21 Mbps. These are significant improvements over what the average AT&T or Verizon customer was getting prior to their C-band deployment.

Average download speeds for each carrier before C-band rollout, for comparison.
Image: open signal

While T-Mobile’s 5G rollout was based on mid-band 5G, its competitors spent billions securing the rights to C-band spectrum so they could do their own large-scale rollouts. . In January, they actually began the process of rolling out mid-band signals to consumers (after several delays due to a brouhaha around the possibility that C-band signals could interfere with vital aircraft equipment).

All of this means that T-Mobile probably won’t be able to rest on its laurels. Verizon and, to a lesser extent, AT&T have shown that their C-band acquisitions allow them to compete on speed where they have deployed the equipment. Verizon plans to expand its C-band availability to at least 75 million more people by the end of this year, while T-Mobile only plans to add about 50 million more. Sooner or later, Verizon could catch up, and carriers will have to race again to find a way to differentiate themselves that they can brag about.

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