So far, Verizon has pushed its millimeter wave-based 5G coverage to the top of the list for 5% network performance. But as the network continues to develop, we are beginning to see some changes, highlighted by the latest performance report from network tester Ookla, covering the final three months of 2020.
According to Ookla during the fourth quarter of last year, AT&T 5G is the Rajdar champion, which shocked us almost as much as it probably surprised you. This is a huge change, especially since Ookla ranked Verizon as the best-performing 5G network as recently as the third quarter of 2020, when the carrier’s speed score was 792.5. AT & T’s next best score dwarfed at 65.22.
For the fourth quarter, however, AT&T’s 5G speed score dropped to 75.59, while Verizon dropped to 67.07.
The large drop in Verizon’s score can be attributed to more markets for the broader markets of Verizon’s 5G network. In October, with the launch of the iPhone 12, Big Red overtook mmWave 5G to include sub 6Hz spectrum in its network. That type of 5G gets more people – Verizon now says that its 5G network reaches 230 million people – but it’s much slower than MMWave. More people are getting slower speeds on a network that, according to Okola, will drive down the speed score.
With this overall drop in speed, Verizon now sits at the bottom of the 5G stack behind T-Mobile and Sprint (both were measured separately despite their 2020 merger). In terms of overall performance – LTE and 5G – Ookla ranks AT&T No. 1 for the eighth consecutive quarter. T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon are out of the latest rankings.
It should be seen that AT&T and T-Mobile will experience similar declines in their scores as more and more people join the 5G revolution. 2021 looks to be an interesting year when it comes to carrier 5G performance.