Opensignal is out with its latest studies on 5G coverage and performance in the US. Through the first part of 2021, T-Mobile is still leading the 5G race when it comes to availability and average speeds. But AT&T and Verizon were able to outperform the Uncarrier with their 5G games and video experiences. And a fascinating finding is how rarely users are actually connected to mmWave 5G.

Opensignal shared its April 2021 5G User Experience Report as well as a “Qualifying the mmWave 5G experience” report.

The studies are based on millions of devices and billions of measurements in the US between December 2020 and April 2021.

When looking specifically at the fastest 5G coverage, mmWave, it showed Verizon continues the lead with the fastest average top speeds – ~3x that of T-Mobile or AT&T.

Verizon has put the most investment into mmWave, but the downside is the range is much lower than the mid and low-band 5G spectrum that T-Mobile and AT&T have focused more on.

The whole iPhone 12 lineup in the US does support mmWave 5G. But painting a look at real-world expectations, mmWave across all three carriers is only available/used a tiny fraction of the time – less than 1%. That’s compared to users being connected to T-Mobile’s full 5G coverage (including mid and low-band) 33% of the time.

Overall 5G performance by carrier

When taking a look at the whole 5G picture in the US, T-Mobile kept its crown for 5G availability/reach, download, and uploads speeds. However, AT&T won this time around for the best 5G video and voice app experience, and tied with Verizon for the best games experience.

Opensignal US 5G user experience report

Looking at availability, T-Mobile users in the test were connected to 5G 33.1% of the time. AT&T landed with 20.5% availability and Verizon just 11.2%. All three did show 5G availability improvement since Opensignal’s 2020 Q4 report, but just by a few percentage points.

Related to availability is a new metric in the study called “Reach” that T-Mobile also led:

5G Reach represents the proportion of locations where 5G users have connected to 5G out of all the locations those users have visited, on a scale of 0-10. This measure complements our existing 5G Availability metric which represents the proportion of time 5G users spend connected to 5G.

When it came to the video experience on 5G, AT&T took the top honor, just outperforming Verizon who won the category in Opensignal’s last study. The report highlighted it’s now just speed that impacts video streaming:

Our data confirms that speed alone is not sufficient to offer users a great video streaming experience, and we can see another example of that in this report, as T-Mobile placed last in our Video Experience category, despite winning our 5G Download Speed award by a sizable margin.

AT&T and Verizon also scored the highest when it came to the 5G games experience.

The 5G Games Experience quantifies the experience when playing real-time multiplayer mobile games on mobile devices connected to a 5G network. A Good rating means that most users did not experience a delay between their actions and the game and the gameplay experience was generally controllable.

For average 5G download and upload speeds, T-Mobile furthered its lead over Verizon and AT&T.

T-Mobile’s average download speeds increased by 13 Mbps to 71.3 over the last quarter while AT&T’s increased by 1.1 and Verizon just 0.3 Mbps.

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