New report highlights 5G's early improvements over 4G

OpenSignal's latest data shows how, even in the early days, 5G is often a lot faster than 4G.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G | Mobile networks | Wireless carriers | Phones | Tablets | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms | Mobile | Console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
2 min read
Phone screens side by side show T-Mobile 5G is over five times faster than LTE on download.

No surprise, but even early 5G is often much faster than 4G. Shown above: T-Mobile's 4G LTE network, left, compared to its 5G mmWave network. 

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

There are plenty of lofty promises of 5G being thrown around by governments and carriers in the early days of the new network technology. And while it may take some type to reach up to that hype, some of the first 5G networks are starting to show some of that promise. 

A new report from wireless tracking firm OpenSignal show max download speeds in the US hitting 1815Mbps on 5G, nearly three times faster than the 678Mbps top speed the firm has captured on 4G. At nearly 2Gbps the US also claimed the top spot on speed, coming in well ahead of number two Switzerland's 1145Mbps and number three South Korea's 1071Mbps. 

US carriers such as Verizon , AT&T and T-Mobile , however, are using a higher frequency technology known as millimeter wave for their first 5G networks while the rest of the world has prioritized mid-band 5G deployment. Millimeter wave is great for speed and dense urban environments, but it has significant limitations on coverage area. Mid-band 5G, which is currently being deployed by Sprint in the US, doesn't offer the same max speeds as mmWave but does cover a much wider area. 

From Apple to Samsung: 5G phones available right now

See all photos

In CNET's own early 5G tests AT&T took the top spot on download speeds at 1.8Gbps in Los Angeles, followed by Verizon's 1.3Gbps in Chicago, T-Mobile's 583Mbps in New York and Sprint's 484Mbps in Dallas. 

Not every area OpenSignal tested saw 5G top 4G. In Spain, speeds between the two technologies were nearly identical at download speeds of 602Mbps on 5G and 596Mbps on 4G. In Australia 4G was actually much faster than 5G, coming in at a blazing 950Mbps on 4G and 792Mbps on the new next-gen network.