Verizon’s mobile 5G service, while still limited to small pockets of urban areas, is delivering impressive speed improvements from LTE, according to July Speedtest data from Ookla.
In a Thursday Speedtest blog, Brian Turley looked at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 modem performance in the field and analyzed July data to compare 5G and LTE download speeds in the United States.
The analysis only included results from Verizon and Sprint (AT&T didn’t make the cut because it only offers 5G to business customers, and T-Mobile’s late-June 5G launch excluded the carrier from results). The analysis also only looked at results from the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, which both use the Snapdragon X50.
On average, Verizon consumers with 5G-capable devices are seeing 5G download speeds eight-times faster than over LTE, Turley said. The performance gap is even more remarkable in Denver, Minneapolis and Providence, where Verizon launched 5G services earlier this year and consumers are clocking gigabit or near-gigabit average 5G speeds.
Specifically, in Denver Verizon’s 5G download speeds were 988.37 Mbps compared to 107.41 Mbps over LTE, an 820.2% improvement. Verizon 5G customers in Minneapolis are seeing a 917.5% speed difference, with 5G download speeds of 931.98 Mbps, versus 91.59 Mbps for LTE. In Providence, R.I., meanwhile, 5G download speeds were 11-times faster, clocking in at 1.13 Gbps vs 101.32 Mbps.
In Chicago, Verizon 5G speeds were 578% quicker than LTE. Verizon LTE speeds in the city were already very fast at 128.71 Mbps and the highest of all the cities looked at but still far outpaced by average 5G download speeds of 873.2 Mbps.
Verizon peak 5G speeds neared or hit the 2 Gbps threshold in all four cities analyzed: Chicago (peak 5G download speed 2.03 Gbps), Denver (2.01 Gbps), Minneapolis (1.93 Gbps), Providence (1.83 Gbps).
Verizon is currently using mmWave spectrum in the 28 GHz band and is initially focusing on dense urban areas with large capacity requirements. Flavors of 5G that use lower frequency bands may not deliver quite as impressive speeds that are possible with mmWave, but better propagation of sub-6 GHz frequency bands can mean greater 5G coverage areas.
Speedtest data also shows that while Sprint’s 5G service isn’t clocking near-gigabit speeds, its download speeds are still greatly improved and on average nearly three-times better than LTE. Sprint uses its mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum for 5G.
Tests initiated on Sprint’s 5G connection on average hit 236 Mbps, a nearly 200% difference from average LTE speeds of 79.25 Mbps. Sprint’s peak 5G speed in the July Speedtest dataset was 724.33 Mbps, which happened in Chicago.
“The network performance could improve even further with an increased utilization of higher-order MIMO (5G and LTE), a higher contribution of the LTE layer during EN-DC (dual connectivity) and an improved backhaul,” wrote Turley.