What Speeds to Expect with 5G
Fifth generation (5G) cellular networks are the next evolution in mobile broadband, engineered to greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks. 5G promises lightning-fast downloads and near-instant communication with extremely low latency.
So what speeds will you actually experience with a 5G cellular connection? Here’s an overview:
- Peak Download Speeds
- The 5G standard defines peak download speeds up to 20 Gbps. However, these blistering multi-gigabit speeds will likely only be achievable in ideal scenarios.
- Average Download Speeds
- More realistically, average 5G download speeds are expected to land around 100-900 Mbps. However, 300 Mbps is a reasonable median target for average user experience.
- Typical Download Speeds
- Typical download speeds for today’s 5G networks run from 50-400 Mbps based on testing in actual deployment scenarios. Speeds can vary significantly depending on location, network technology, signal strength, and network congestion.
In the best case under optimal signaling conditions, 5G networks boast blazing fast speeds up to a gigabit per second (1 Gbps). But as with any cellular technology, experiences in the real world seldom reach theoretical maximums.
Factors Influencing 5G Speeds
Many technical factors influence the download and upload speeds achievable on 5G networks, including:
- Location: Speed and availability varies greatly depending on geographic area. Rural users may not have any 5G coverage.
- Network Technology: The specific 5G network technology utilized impacts speed capabilities.
- Signal Strength: Speeds are faster closer to cell towers with fewer obstructions. Indoor speeds are generally slower.
- Network Congestion: More users connected to a cell site reduces available bandwidth per user. Congestion reduces speeds.
- Device Capabilities: Top speeds require a 5G-capable device with compatible modem. Older 5G phones may lack capabilities to reach top speeds.
With the above factors in mind, advertising ubiquitous 300 Mbps speeds on 5G is misleading. A typical user can expect anywhere from 50 Mbps to 300+ Mbps down, depending on conditions. For many, even 50 Mbps provides a great mobile internet experience.
Real-World 5G Speed Test Examples
To understand typical real-world speeds users see with 5G cellular connectivity today, here are some examples from recent speed tests:
Verizon 5G Speed Test
- Location: Lincoln, NE
- Download Speed: 486 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 33 Mbps
- Ping: 39 ms
This example demonstrates the impressive speeds possible under ideal 5G conditions with minimal network congestion. Still, it falls short of the 20 Gbps theoretical maximum.
T-Mobile 5G MmWave Speed Test
- Location: Jersey City, NJ
- Download Speed: 813 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 75 Mbps
- Ping: 25 ms
T-Mobile’s millimeter wave 5G offers insanely fast peak speeds over 1 Gbps in some areas. However, the signal lacks range and struggles to penetrate buildings.
AT&T 5G Speed Test
- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Download Speed: 54 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 11 Mbps
- Ping: 50 ms
This AT&T subscriber achieved just 54 Mbps down despite a strong 5G signal. Network congestion from heavy usage during peak times explains slower-than-expected performance.
The tests illustrate how factors like technology, location, and congestion impact real-life 5G speeds. While 300+ Mbps is possible under ideal circumstances, users should temper expectations for consistently fast performance.
Typical 5G Use Cases and Required Speeds
Do you really need blazing fast 300 Mbps 5G cellular connectivity? In many cases, no. Here are some typical use cases and the required data speeds to meet needs:
Web Browsing and Email
Basic web browsing and email requires very little bandwidth – 5 Mbps or less is sufficient. Unless you are downloading massive attachments, LTE easily handles everyday internet use cases.
Social Media and Messaging
Scrolling Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and messaging requires minimal data speeds under 10 Mbps. Streaming social video consumes more bandwidth, but LTE is often adequate.
Streaming high quality audio from Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and others consumes up to 150 Mbps for CD-quality lossless audio. However, normal quality music streaming needs only 64 Kbps.
Standard definition video streaming requires 2-5 Mbps depending on compression. Full HD video requires 5+ Mbps. 4K ultra HD ramps up to 25 Mbps for the best quality.
The key insight is that many common mobile uses work fine on 4G LTE networks. Unless you are downloading massive files or streaming ultra high definition video, base 5G capability is likely sufficient rather than bleeding edge multi-gigabit 5G.
Key Takeaways on 5G Speeds
To recap key takeaways on speed capabilities for 5G cellular networks:
- Theoretical Peak: 20 Gbps
- Average Target: ~300 Mbps
- Typical Range: 50-400 Mbps
- Common Use Cases: Most mobile applications do not require ultra-high 300+ Mbps speeds. Base 5G capability provides ample performance for typical usage scenarios.
- Varies Greatly: Actual experienced speeds depend greatly on location, network technology deployed, cell signal, network congestion and other factors.
In the best case scenario, 5G can deliver blazing multi-gigabit speeds far exceeding 1 Gbps. However, consumers should expect speeds in the 100-400 Mbps range on average, with significant variation.
While early 5G network performance does not always achieve the ambitious speed claims in marketing materials, new infrastructure rollouts continue to enhance real-world speeds.
Performance will improve as networks expand capacity through additional spectrum and increased cell site density. Over the next few years, average speeds should trend closer to the ~300 Mbps target.
Even at today’s performance levels, 5G provides a generational leap over 4G LTE. And chassis technology like carrier aggregation and 4G/5G dual connectivity further boost speeds.
Ultimately, whether you receive 300 Mbps speeds comes down to your location, carrier, device capabilities, network utilization in your area, and other factors. But blistering fast 5G will become more commonplace with time.
Frequently Asked Questions
<b>Here are answers to 20 common questions on 5G speeds:</b>
Is 5G really 300 Mbps?
5G networks theoretically support amazing speeds up to 20 Gbps. However, average speeds will realistically fall around 100-500 Mbps rather than 300 Mbps in many areas. Peak multi-gigabit 5G is still maturing.
Why is my 5G so slow?
If your 5G cellular connection disappoints, check coverage in your area, signal strength, device capabilities, and current network usage. More users connected to a tower reduces available bandwidth per user. Changing locations or bands can help.
How fast is AT&T 5G?
Average AT&T 5G download speeds range from 50-150 Mbps based on OpenSignal testing. Despite lower average speeds than competitors, AT&T 5G offers the most extensive coverage right now.
How fast is Verizon 5G UW?
Testing shows average Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband speeds from 300 Mbps to 1 Gbps where available. However, geographic coverage is extremely limited. Nationwide 5G covers more area at slower speeds.
How fast is T-mobile 5G?
T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G averages 300+ Mbps in many regions with peak download speeds up to 1 Gbps. Expanded coverage and capacity using Sprint’s spectrum has enhanced T-Mobile’s network. MmWave technology pushes speeds even higher in some urban areas.
What is a good 5G speed?
A good 5G download speed is at least 100 Mbps, with 30-50 Mbps upload, and low latency below 30 milliseconds. At these minimum speeds you’ll enjoy extremely fast downloads, responsive streaming media, and great call quality.
Will 5G replace fiber internet?
5G cannot fully replace fiber since wireless spectrum is constrained, limiting total capacity. However, 5G fixed wireless access does offer home broadband speeds rivaling basic fiber packages without running wires. 5G enhances but probably won’t completely displace fiber access long-term.
Is 5G really that much faster than 4G?
Yes, 5G offers exponentially faster peak data rates compared to 4G LTE networks. Some real-world tests show up to 100x speed increases. Average users are likely to experience 10-30x faster speeds with 5G connectivity.
Why does my 5G switch back to 4G sometimes?
Seamless handovers between 5G/4G help maintain continuous connectivity. As you move around areas with different coverage, your phone switches network generations and bands as needed. Temporary 4G reversions prevent dropped calls and lagging data.
Is mmWave the fastest 5G?
Yes, mmWave 5G transmits over very high frequency radio waves above 24 GHz. Extremely wide channel bandwidths support incredible multi-gigabit peak download speeds. The tradeoff is very limited signal propagation which requires abundant small cells.
How do I get faster 5G speeds?
Switching locations, devices, plans, or carriers can help boost speeds. Reducing cell traffic by avoiding congestion also speeds up data. Enabling 5G roaming and selecting faster bands manually may force faster connections. But reliability suffers when latching specific bands.
What uses the most 5G data?
Streaming HD and Ultra HD video consumes massive amounts of 5G data, especially for extended periods. Other data hogs include lossless multi-channel audio streaming, large remote file downloads/transfers, mobile video game streaming, and hotspot usage.
What devices support 5G?
Most flagship Android phones and iPhones from the last 2-3 years include built-in 5G radios. Tablets, hotspots, and laptops with 5G support are also available. Confirm any device officially supports specific carrier 5G bands before purchasing.
How do I check my 5G signal strength?
On Android, dial *#*#4636#*#* and select “Phone Information” to view available network bands and signal strength readings in dBm. Readings of -100 to -70 indicate good signaling. iPhone users can download apps like Network Cell Info Lite to check 5G metrics.
Will 5G replace WiFi?
5G is unlikely to displace WiFi entirely, especially with WiFi 6 and 6E boosting speeds and capacity. But 5G does reduce reliance on public WiFi hotspots when mobile plans have huge data limits or unlimited data. For mobility, 5G provides an enhanced experience.
Can buildings block 5G signals?
Building materials like brick, concrete, coated glass and metal obstruct high frequency 5G signals. MmWave especially struggles to penetrate into structures which limits useful range. Using external antennas and small cells helps amplify reception indoors.
Does weather affect 5G signal?
Heavy rain, snow, and fog scatter and attenuate 5G frequency bands, reducing signal power. Foliage absorption from trees also decreases penetration. That’s why unobstructed line-of-sight signals are ideal for optimal performance.
What uses more data – 4G or 5G?
5G encourages higher data usage since peak speeds support data-intensive use cases like streaming 4K/8K video. However, both generations have similar efficiency when web browsing or handling simpler tasks. Unlimited data plans prevent overages regardless of usage.