Another Report Shows U.S. 5G Isn't Living Up To The Hype

from the you-promised-us-a-miracle dept

Despite the relentless hype leading up to the deployment of 5G, and all the lopsided favors regulators gave wireless carriers on behalf of 5G, and all the lobbying and DC rhetoric about how the U.S. was engaged in a “race with China” over 5G — U.S. 5G continues to be… largely mediocre.

A number of recent studies have already shown that U.S. wireless isn’t just the most expensive in the developed world, U.S. 5G is significantly slower than most overseas deployments. That’s thanks in large part to our failure to make so-called middle band spectrum available for public use, resulting in a heavy smattering of lower band spectrum (good signal reach but slow speeds) or high-band and millimeter wave spectrum (great speeds, but poor reach and poor reception indoors). The end result is a far cry from what carriers had spent the last three years promising.

Now another Ookla report has emerged showing that while U.S. 5G availability is going well, the actual speeds users are getting rank among the worst in the developed world:

“Ookla placed median 5G download speeds at 93.73 Mbps in the US, far lower than the UK?s 184.2 Mbps median and far lower still than South Korea, which led the pack at 492.48 Mbps. The U.S. placed around the same relative position for upload speeds as well.”

To be clear 93 Mbps being delivered to your pocket is certainly nothing to laugh at. 5G delivers some very real latency and speed improvements for wireless networks. But these improvements were always more evolutionary than revolutionary, and even at their maximum potential were never going to live up to much of the ridiculous hype we’ve seen over the last few years (carriers have already started hyping 6G before 5G has finished disappointing us). But the U.S. isn’t even matching the maximum performance seen in most nations around the world.

Ookla’s coverage claims should also be taken with a grain of salt. Other reports on 5G show that even when 5G is purportedly “available,” users have a hard time accessing it. This OpenSignal report, for example, found that Verizon’s ultra-fast 5G variant was only actually available to consumers with 5G-capable phones around 0.8% of the time. A different OpenSignal report also found that availability wasn’t all that great, and that U.S. wireless carriers routinely overstate coverage with their marketing maps.

Granted U.S. 4G networks were middle of the pack as well. And this is all before you get to the fact that U.S. wireless prices are some of the highest in the developed world. You’ll routinely see most of these organizations never mention price, for fear of upsetting wireless carriers they generally have tight data-sharing business relationships with. They’ll also never actually go beyond the purely technical to explain why the U.S. is consistently so mediocre (regulatory capture, increasingly consolidated carriers, feckless and underfunded consumer protection regulators).

Again, U.S. 5G speeds should slowly improve as the country pushes more middle-band spectrum to market. But even then, you can probably expect the United States to ultimately sit somewhere in the middle of the pack, a place it generally rests in most meaningful fixed-line broadband comparisons as well for reasons we’ve well explored.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Another Report Shows U.S. 5G Isn't Living Up To The Hype”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
ThatDevilTech says:

Just like wired networks

The cellular networks, and the carriers, lag way behind other countries in what they provide. It really is a shame, we should be leading the pack, but instead we’re stuck with crap services that nobody wants to update, much less maintain. And the regulatory bodies are so captured that nobody can do anything to make it better. Asking Congress to do anything is out as the lobbyist are deep in their pockets.

Anonymous Coward says:

It would be hard to design a system worse than the USA telecom network. Regulators capttured, spectrum hoarding. Lack of completion The point of 5g is its very fast, If networks have acess to All the spectrum bands, which is not true, regulators should make sure all 5g providers have acess to All spectrum bands otherwise its simply a waste of battery power and expensive network infrastructure, imagine buying a new BMW car but only being allowed to drive at 50mph that is like 5g networks in the USA
Of course in a large country like USA there was little chance of 5g being available in most places outside city’s
Urban areas

Anonymous Coward says:

‘U.S. 5G continues to be… largely mediocre’

wow! i didn’t realise it was actually even this good but like everything in the USA that can be subject to bribery and corruption, particularly through politicians, instead of being at the forefront of world class technology, we’re at the ass end! we’re not even good enough, in so many instances, to wipe that ass!

Anonymous Coward says:

News at 11. Lack of competition. Regulatory capture, mega mergers a weak FCC oversight mean most US users have mediocre network service in mobile and Internet acess. The new Biden billion dollar network plans
have a chance of increasing speed and acess to networks
assuming most of the money does not go to Comcast , ATT or telecom corporations who have no competition in the areas where they provide a service

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...