June 8, 2023

Written by: Rayna Hollander

Verizon customers experienced the fastest 5G speeds compared with customers on all other major networks in the five US cities covered by RootMetrics. Of the Big Four US carriers, Verizon posted the fastest 5G network by a wide margin, with its fastest median download speeds hitting 247 Mbps, while its fastest maximum speeds were 845.7 Mbps.

That’s well above Verizon’s closest competitor on this front, Sprint, with the fastest median download speeds of 136.7 Mbps and maximum speeds of 249.9 Mbps. While RootMetrics found Verizon was a sure winner in terms of speed, this narrative didn’t hold when it came to coverage.

Verizon’s highest 5G availability rate in the five US cities tested by RootMetrics was at 3.1%, well below market leader T-Mobile (57.1%), as well as Sprint (45.7%) and AT&T (9.5%). 

The study underlines how 5G networks differ widely based on the technology that powers them, especially in their early days. 5G service can be delivered in many different ways, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Compared with its rivals, Verizon’s 5G network only uses mmWave spectrum, which provides the fastest wireless connection speeds but the tradeoff of these speeds is more limited coverage areas. Sprint, on the other hand, uses mid-band spectrum in its 5G network, which has so far resulted in a more widespread network, but the consequence is that its network is slower than Verizon’s. 

Given these factors, wireless operators will have to change the ways they market their next-gen networks — and should emphasize the strengths of their networks to drive updates. The differing benefits and drawbacks of 5G services could confuse consumers who are accustomed to more straightforward 4G offerings, which primarily rely on low-band spectrum so coverage and speed are all based on very similar factors.

Instead of continuing to tout the general reliability of their networks, telecoms should shift to emphasizing the specific value their respective 5G networks offer. For instance, Verizon should identify the primary benefit its 5G network delivers, such as speed, and center its marketing strategies around it. 

In the near term, we think Verizon will have an advantage over its competitors in convincing consumers to upgrade by emphasizing the primary benefit its 5G network delivers. The largest share (62%) of US consumers in a PwC survey cited faster data speeds as the reason why they would pay more for 5G service. That ranks above true and consistent unlimited data (52%), increased reliability (43%), and more consistent coverage outside the home (38%).

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