Even though it’s only been a little over a month since RootMetrics last scrutinized the US wireless industry, trying to determine who was leading the nation’s 5G race in “early 2021”, the analytics firm is already taking another look at the data, tracking Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile’s progress in this fast-growing landscape.
The tested market tally is up from 45 back in April to 65 now en route to covering all of the 125 most populated metros stateside by the end of the year’s first six months, and believe it or not, these 20 additional cities make a world of difference, at least when analyzing the “fastest everyday 5G download speed experience.”
AT&T still reigns supreme in terms of speeds, but Verizon is closing the gap fast
Before getting into the actual results of these updated network speed, availability, and reliability tests, it’s important to point out that RootMetrics is officially tweaking its 5G reporting starting today, no longer focusing entirely on numbers produced by so-called “5G-only technology.”
Because Verizon, AT&T, and yes, even T-Mobile customers are constantly switching between 5G and 4G LTE during the same “data activity”, combining these “mixed mode” scenarios with 5G-only results can provide a far more accurate picture of the way real people with real 5G-enabled phones experience next-gen cellular connectivity right now.
RootMetrics is dubbing its newest key performance indicators the “everyday” 5G download speeds, 5G data reliability, and 5G availability ratings, and just like before, AT&T rules perhaps the most important chart of the three.
Ma Bell’s 5G speed supremacy might be in danger, however, as Verizon managed to prevail in seven of the 20 recently tested cities after previously winning just two of 45 possible crowns.
With plenty of ties still registered across the country, AT&T holds a clear lead over the competition as far as everyday 5G download speeds are concerned in a grand total of 15 major markets, compared to nine for Verizon and eight for T-Mobile.
When it comes to individual cities, Big Red crushes both Ma Bell and Magenta with its 95 Mbps “everyday” and 114.2 Mbps “5G-only” median download speed records registered in Lansing, Michigan. Perhaps more significantly, all the “big three” US carriers are showing great speed progress in almost every new city tested.
One win for T-Mobile, one win for Verizon
It’s practically impossible for any of the nation’s top wireless service providers to claim an overwhelming victory in this latest 5G war (although something tells us they will all try to do so) once you also take into consideration the availability and data reliability aspects of the in-depth analysis.
While T-Mobile’s completely unsurprising triumph in “everyday 5G availability” is also as crushing as you probably expect, Verizon stunned AT&T by winning twice as many new “everyday 5G data reliability” battles and thus moving from second to first place overall, with Magenta still ranked a very distant third.
In case you’re wondering, that essentially means your odds of both getting and staying connected to 5G are much better on Verizon than AT&T and especially T-Mobile in most markets probed by RootMetrics so far this year.
Of course, you shouldn’t extrapolate that conclusion (or any other determination in this report) to the entire country, although T-Mobile’s 5G availability title is truly impossible to contest.
Incredibly enough, the “Un-carrier” currently sits at 97.5 percent (!!!) everyday 5G availability in Oklahoma City and as much as 70.8 percent 5G-only availability in Augusta, Georgia, two mind-blowing figures emphasizing the phenomenal penetration of that unrivaled combination of low and mid-band spectrum.
That being said, T-Mo still has a long way to go before it can catch up with the competition in terms of speeds and network reliability in heavily populated metropolitan areas, and that’s starting to look like a very serious problem considering Verizon and AT&T’s undeniable 5G availability improvements.