T-Mobile vs Verizon vs AT&T: The US 5G speed champion continues to extend its impressive lead


Between controversial price hikes, a number of other controversial policy changes, and… a controversial proposed acquisition of (most of) US Cellular, it’s safe to say that T-Mobile has faced an overwhelmingly negative wave of media attention in the last few months.

Luckily for the once beloved “Un-carrier” widely nicknamed the “Re-carrier” of late all across social media, some positive things will never change, especially if the aforementioned US Cellular takeover is ultimately approved.
We’re talking about Magenta’s huge 5G speed advantage over its wireless industry rivals, which believe it or not may have gotten even larger in recent months, at least according to a new Ookla report.

Verizon and AT&T can’t touch T-Mobile

After showing very promising signs of improvement in late 2023 thanks to new C-band deployments, Verizon and AT&T’s 5G median download speeds appear to have largely stagnated in early 2024, giving T-Mobile the opportunity to further widen an already substantial lead.
Following a mid-band network upgrade of its own this March, T-Mo incredibly jumped from 257.5 to 287.14 Mbps speed averages in a single month, leaving Verizon’s otherwise solid 224.67 Mbps score and AT&T’s comparably modest 145.36 Mbps in the dust.

Curiously enough, T-Mobile then slipped to 275.50 Mbps in May 2024, which still crushed the competition’s results at the end of the period monitored by Ookla for this latest report. Verizon, mind you, had managed to rise from 133.56 Mbps in June 2023 to 215.57 Mbps at the end of last year, which is however a performance boost Big Red is unlikely to repeat anytime soon.

The industry-leading “Un-carrier”, meanwhile, has various 5G Standalone (SA) expansion and six carrier aggregation rollout tricks up its sleeve that are very likely to continue improving both its speeds and network availability, not to mention that the additional spectrum from US Cellular could allow T-Mobile to massively enhance its rural signal… further down the line.

Both T-Mobile and Verizon have already substantially improved their rural 5G performance recently, although all of the nation’s top three wireless service providers remain primarily focused on urban speed boosts.

General consumer sentiment has also progressed rather nicely for Verizon and AT&T in the last year or so, but all in all, this looks like another key performance indicator where T-Mobile‘s comfortable lead is virtually impossible to overturn in the near future. That’s not what we can say for 5G video quality, where Verizon is a very close second, or 5G gaming performance, where Big Red actually holds a (narrow) lead as of Q1 2024.

Where is the US positioned internationally right now?

As much as it might pain some of you to hear this, the United States haven’t exactly gotten the strongest start on the global 5G stage in terms of speed all those years ago.

But while the nation has been relatively slow to progress at first, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T have essentially come together of late to make America great again (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Being number 11 in the world as of February 2024 in Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index may not sound like the most impressive achievement in the history of the US wireless industry, but it definitely beats sitting in 20th place just a year prior to that date.

In terms of both 5G service and 5G availability, meanwhile, the United States trumps countries like Canada, France, Australia, Germany, and the UK, being however unsurprisingly eclipsed by China and South Korea. The land of the free and the home of the brave is making solid progress on these fronts as well, but threatening the supremacy of the two Asian super forces is unlikely to happen, well, ever.

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