Need to Know: 5G: 10% performance, 0 new apps

20 Gbps and 1 ms latency is possible in the lab but a fever dream in the real world. At Verizon, the median speed of 5G is the same or less than 4G. The latency is rated at 30 ms, little better than most 4G.

Even on the better 5G networks, delivering 150-400 Mbps downloads, no interesting new apps have developed after two years. 0!

Little will change most places for years. mmWave at Verizon does often reach 1 Gbps but currently covers perhaps 2% of the U.S. It’s three years behind schedule, not likely to reach 25% of the U.S. until ~2025.

Verizon is the most advanced Edge network in the West, bringing latency down to 20-30 ms per Thierry Sender. That’s slower than my cable modem (19 ms) and double the latency of the fiber most businesses depend on.

5G in the real world is little better than 4G most places. Compared to promises, it has failed.


“Mid-band 5G” = 2.5-4.2 GHz – will usually deliver 100-400 Mbps and occasionally higher where carriers have 80-100 MHz of spectrum. 4G in the same spectrum gets close to the same speed. 4G with 4 bands of carrier aggregation, like Bell Canada, also delivers hundreds of megabits.

T-Mobile has a cell in production in Manhattan delivering 505 Mbps using aggregation and LAA, sharing some unlicensed spectrum. That doesn’t work in 5G yet.

“Low-band 5G” – < 2300 MHz — is essentially fake. Whether in dedicated or shared spectrum (DSS,) the speed is the same or lower than decent 4G. That’s all of AT&T, almost all of Verizon, and the majority of Deutsche Telekom and Swisscom. It should never have been called 5G.

The 5G Emperor has no clothes

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