How C-band changed Verizon and AT&T 5G performance

By | March 29, 2022

After deploying its C-band 5G coverage at the beginning of the year – including some controversy with the FAA – Verizon and AT&T are looking to catch up to T-Mobile. Now a new report from Opensignal shows how much of a difference the new mid-band 5G coverage has made for performance so far.

In its latest study, Opensignal measured “the impact of the C-band launches on the 5G mobile experience.” While AT&T and Verizon’s C-band is mostly in the frequency range of 3.7-3.8 GHz, the study uses T-Mobile’s 2.5 GHz 5G as a comparison in the mid-range spectrum.

Notably, T-Mobile first started rolling out its mid-band 5G all the way back in April 2020, which is a major part of why it’s been leading the 5G race.

Interestingly, while Opensignal sees Verizon’s 5G improvements around the country – now available in 1,700 cities – as taking full advantage of the C-band rollout this year, AT&T has only turned that on in eight cities so far. But that should change soon as AT&T has announced “a larger mid-band 5G deployment starting from Q2.”

When looking at just mid-band 5G, Verizon has almost caught up with T-Mobile for download speeds with 211.8 Mbps and surpassed it for upload speeds with 20.7 Mbps in the Opensignal results.

With AT&T not fully rolling out its C-band coverage yet, it’s still lagging behind with 160 Mbps mid-band 5G download speeds but is in the middle of T-Mobile and Verizon with 18.5 Mbps upload speeds.

When looking at the big picture of how the C-band deployment has changed overall 5G speeds (not just mid-band), Verizon saw a boost of 15 Mbps from 55.7 to 70.6, but T-Mobile still has a notable lead with an average 5G speed over double that.

With AT&T only bringing C-band to eight cities so far, Opensignal didn’t see an improvement in its overall 5G performance.

Looking forward, Opensignal believes Verizon and AT&T having access to the C-band spectrum means they’re ready to “start the chase” to catch up with T-Mobile. However, it predicts “it may be some time before the two carriers can challenge T-Mobile for the 5G Download Speed award.”

Check out the full Opensignal report here on how C-band is impacting 5G coverage.

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