UK and US are rubbish at 5G – Opensignal

Mobile network benchmarker Opensignal has analysed the real-world 5G experience in a bunch of countries, with the UK and US scoring poorly across the board.

Opensignal has come up with a metric it calls ‘5G download experience’, which is a product of average 5G download speeds and 4G speeds, with the proportions depending on how much 5G availability there is. The rational seems to be that if you have a 5G phone, but hardly ever get onto a 5G network, then your 5G experience is largely determined by 4G.

So in the first chart below you can see average download speeds by country and the multiple from 4G to 5G. As you can see, the US is pretty rubbish on both counts. The second chart shows 5G availability, with UK 5G subscribers actually getting what they’ve paid for less than 5% of the time. As a consequence, the UK and US are very much bottom of the 5G experience table, as shown in the final chart.

Opensignal notes that the reason the US speeds are so bad is that its operators are mainly using small amounts of low frequency spectrum, which in turn bumps up their coverage numbers. That may be set to change following the mid-band auction, but coverage and capacity will always be a trade-off. It offers no such mitigation for the UK’s appalling coverage numbers.


UPDATE 09:30 27/8/20: In the second paragraph we called the Opensignal metric ‘5G download experience’, when the correct name is ‘5G download speed experience’. Apologies for any confusion caused.

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