Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

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.

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently oversees the CNET breaking news desk for the West Coast. Corinne covers everything from phones, social media and security to movies, politics, 5G and pop culture. In her spare time, she watches soccer games, F1 races and Disney movies.
Expertise News
Corinne Reichert
2 min read
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. 

Watch this: Why 5G may seem underwhelming at first

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.

From Apple to Samsung: 5G phones available right now

See all photos