T-Mobile has best 5G availability of major US carriers in new Ookla report

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T-Mobile launched nationwide coverage for its 5G network late last year, and since then it’s been busy expanding that reach with more 600MHz and 2.5GHz spectrum. A new report says that T-Mobile’s effort to grow its 5G coverage is paying off.

Today Ookla released its report on the state of US mobile networks as of Q3 2020, and it found that T-Mobile customers spend the most time on a 5G signal of any major US carrier. T-Mo customers get a 5G signal 54.4% of the time, Ookla says, while Sprint customers are on 5G 47.6% of the time.

To compare, AT&T customers get a 5G signal 18.4% of the time and Verizon subscribers are on 5G just 0.6% of the time, says Ookla.

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While Verizon recently launched a low-band 5G Nationwide network, this study took place in Q3 2020 which means that Verizon only had its mmWave 5G at the time, explaining its relatively low 5G availability score. T-Mobile did take the oppotunity to take a shot at Verizon and its low-band 5G network today, though, because Verizon is using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing to run 5G along with 4G LTE on the same spectrum band.

“We’re building 5G for All on dedicated airwaves to deliver both coverage and speed … while Verizon and AT&T force 5G and LTE customers to share already-crowded bandwidth,” said Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s president of technology. “The physics are simple. When you force more devices to share crowded airwaves, speeds decrease. I predict Verizon’s speeds on 5G and LTE are about to hit a massive speed bump.”

Getting back to Ookla’s report, T-Mobile came out on top when calculating median latency for the top four US carriers. T-Mo’s latency was 31ms, with Verizon and AT&T were at 33ms and 34ms, respectively. Sprint’s median latency came out to 46ms.

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T-Mo faired well in the other categories of Ookla’s report, even if it didn’t come out on top. It finished second in the Fastest Providers category with “Speed Score” of 33.49. Ookla’s Speed Score takes into consideration download and upload speeds, with more weight toward download speed. AT&T came in first in this category with a Speed Score of 41.65 and Verizon was fourth with a Speed Score of 31.40.

T-Mobile came in second place in Ookla’s Consistency Score with 80.8%. The Consistency Score measures the percentage of a carrier’s data samples that meet minimum thresholds for download and upload speeds, in this case 5Mbps down and 1Mbps up. AT&T had the highest Consistency Score of 81.4% and Verizon came in third with 76.9%.

Finally, T-Mo finished third in terms of 5G performance with a Speed Score of 59.49. Verizon came in first place here with a Speed Score of 792.52 while AT&T was in second with a Speed Score of 65.22.

If you’ve got a 5G-capable phone, how has T-Mobile’s 5G network been performing for you lately?

Source: Ookla

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  • Joe

    Having had the S20 plus for the last 6 months I must say that so far 5G is a big work in progress and it’s been more reliable to stay on lte. I hope in the next 6 months t-mobile fixes all the places where 5g is unusable but lte is usable.

    • Trevnerdio

      I agree normally, though in most places I’ve been in the last couple of weeks (around the Denver metro area), speeds have been around 100mbps. Sometimes as low as 30 or even less, but in general, it’s been getting a lot better. Whatever they’re doing, I hope they keep it up.

  • pda96

    I just got the S20 FE. Testing TMO’s 5G, I will say that it’s nothing to write home about. It’s slightly faster than 4G LTE. Sometimes, it’s even worse. Give it another 2 yrs.

    • marque2

      That is actually surprisingly good phone. Agree with you that 5gis a tad overhyped and not much better than 4g. In fact I suspect the phone says 5g but is really only providing 4g service.

  • Willie D

    In San Francisco 5.31M down 1.24M up in Mission District. In most of the district 5G is slower than LTE, and LTE is atrocious in majority of SF as it is, though the signature TMo store in Union Square pulls in 600mbps sometimes over LAA LTE, its still the only place in SF that has even remotely close to anything LTE offers let alone 5G.

    • marque2

      I would blame your San Francisco politicians for making it difficult to set up towers and transmitters and charging too much to do so.

      • DominiMMIV

        Politicians don’t control what building owners do in regards to putting panels on their buildings. There is no open space available build a tower in San Fransisco and if there were the property cost would be ridiculous. Commenting on a subject you know nothing about is pointless and making it political is ridiculous.

        • marque2

          Yes politicians do. Where did you get your insane thought? There are tons of places to put towers in San Francisco from the skyscrapers, libraries, Sutro Tower, Twin Peaks, Church towers (that is actually a fairly common location). Building owners are all too happy to get the lease money. The problem is the permitting, permit fees, and the city/county fees, and demands for other things (e.g. We will allow your tower, if you also spend money fixing a local park)

          In fact all these locations have police repeaters for police radios, and Police have no problem – but then the city wants those stations up, so they don’t have the same permitting / fee / tax requirements do they.

          It is a big money grab.

  • Greg Victor

    I’m lucky. Where I’m at, T-Mobile’s 5G is averaging about 350 Mbps. And that’s indoors. Outdoors it’s averaging about 500 Mbps.

    • marque2

      How did you get the tower indoors?

    • Frankwhitess

      Where do you live ??? Like do you live next to a cell tower ?

      • Greg Victor

        I live in NYC.

  • Shaun Michalak

    Verizon wireless.. 0.6% of the time.. When I read that all I could think of was the person that said that Verizon was leading the pack.. It made me laugh..

    • JG

      I watched the Apple iPhone announcement the other day and I had a little chuckle every time they mentioned how 5G would allow you to have such an amazing connection – up to 4 whole gigs every second!!!! (*In ideal conditions)

      A.) Obviously you’re unlikely to ever come close to ideal conditions in the wild. The tower is always going to be congested, your never going to get a 100% line of sight signal strength (its going to have gone through trees, buildings etc before it got to you), and have other RF interference to deal with…

      And more importantly, B.) Your only going to come close to those speeds with mmWave, which for the immediate foreseeable future will only be available at a half dozen corners in 4 different cities. Unless you never leave that lucky sidewalk square, 99.99% of the time your on 5G its going to be sub6 5G, which is only going to provide marginally better than LTE speeds, at best.

      • Shaun Michalak

        I guess that means we can call it the “dream world” phone.. Because reality is nothing like what they talk about..

      • marque2

        If it can only provide a max of 4 gigs they must have gone cheep and oy provided one instead of two 5g channels usually associated with top tier devices. It’s like an LG Velvet.

  • Glenn Gore

    T-Mobile’s Band 71 5G is quite variable from my experience. I have seen anywhere from 5 Mbps to 185 Mbps, depending on the location. I have seen the horribly slow speeds in locations where the existing LTE is putting out 80 Mbps, and I have seen fast 5G in places where LTE tops out at 12 Mbps. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to what you will get. Maybe it’s the available spectrum or lack of such, but consistency is severely lacking. There could be many reasons, but the huge influx of new iPhone 12’s coming online will mean lots more demand on that 5G network soon.