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T-Mobile has thousands more 5G cities than Verizon and AT&T, Ookla says

The carrier has lit up more than 5,000 cities with 5G. Verizon and AT&T are on just 39 and 237, Ookla says.

T-Mobile 5G network

T-Mobile's 5G and 4G LTE networks.

Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/CNET

T-Mobile has almost 20 times more 5G cities than AT&T and Verizon combined, according to a new analytics report by Ookla. T-Mobile is sitting on 5,013 cities with 5G -- and that's before adding in the former 5G sites of Sprint after the carrier's $26.5 billion merger with Sprint -- while AT&T has 237 5G cities and Verizon has 39.

Verizon was by far the fastest in speeds, though, charting at a speed score of 870 in comparison to AT&T's 78 and T-Mobile's 64 in Ookla's report.

"Only T-Mobile is doing the hard work to deliver 5G coverage and performance. Sure, it would be easier to deliver blazing speeds in postage stamp-sized areas like Verizon, but our strategy is different," said Neville Ray, president of technology at T-Mobile. "T-Mobile's strategy is built on delivering a meaningful 5G experience people can actually use."

Read more: Verizon vs. AT&T vs. T-Mobile vs. Sprint compared: How to pick the best 5G carrier for you

There are now 5,164 cities across the US with 5G, according to Ookla.

A study last week by OpenSignal similarly found Verizon's 5G network to have the fastest speeds while T-Mobile had the best coverage

Verizon commented T-Mobile's 5G performance is the same as what Verizon's customers get using 4G LTE. "Our customers get a great 4G LTE network and the fastest 5G network," a Verizon spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

AT&T says T-Mobile is comparing apples with oranges by counting all individual towns within a metro area to arrive at that 5,000+ number. For example, AT&T counts Boston as one metro area as opposed to counting the towns of Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Newtown, etc. A fairer comparison, according to AT&T, is that its 5G networks cover 179 million people in comparison to T-Mobile's 225 million people. You can check out T-Mobile's 5G coverage maps here and AT&T's 5G maps here.

AT&T also says it's 5G network covers 355 cities, not 237 as stated by Ookla's report. 

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The three carriers also use different radio waves for their 5G networks: Verizon uses high-band millimeter-wave 5G spectrum, while AT&T uses 850MHz spectrum for its low-band 5G network. AT&T will also be employing a new technology called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing to share its 4G airwaves with 5G and improve performance this summer. T-Mobile also uses low-band 600MHz but is now also integrating Sprint's midband 2.5GHz spectrum.

High-band 5G networks provide fast speeds but limited coverage; low-band 5G has better coverage spread, but slower speeds. Mid-band is a combination of both.

Verizon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.