Today, 5G wireless is getting so much attention in the media and the marketplace. It raises the question, which wireless carrier offers the best, fastest and most consistent 5G connection? So, let’s take a closer look at the current state of wireless technology and try to answer that question.
OpenSignal says the U.S. has the fastest 5G peak speeds in the world. That’s terrific, but that’s just one piece of this puzzle. In another piece, Ookla says AT&T Mobility has the fastest 4G speed and Verizon Wireless has the most consistent signal. Also, good to know.
Ookla says: Fastest 4G is AT&T and most consistent signal is Verizon
While this is great, the truth is, we are still in the very early days of 5G. In fact, we are just in the first half of the first inning of this new ball game. That means there are years ahead of us in this new race.
Bottom line, when complete, all carriers will likely have a marketable 5G service. Although some will be stronger, better and faster than others.
Today, the average user doesn’t care as much about 5G as the industry, investors and the media does. The reason is we are just in the very early stages. As 5G speeds increase and become widespread, and as new applications and devices emerge, so will user interest.
As a wireless analyst, I am invited by carriers to see their 5G progress, test their speeds where available, and their first-generation handsets, then tell the world about it. What I have seen so far is very impressive. However, it will take time to roll out, just like 4G did.
Based on what I see and have been told will be developed, I believe that means once this is available to everyone in the country, and once new smartphones, tablet’s and other gear are in the market, and services and applications are created, our business and personal lives will change dramatically.
This rollout has begun with AT&T last year and will only get better and faster with all players like Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint as it continues across America and as new technologies like self-driving cars, wireless pay TV and more become mainstream.
Remember, to get 5G speeds, we must have a 5G network and 5G smartphones and tablets. And these are just starting to roll out. Over the next several quarters we will see more 5G handsets become available.
T-Mobile and Sprint are third and fourth place leaders in 5G
I believe both AT&T and Verizon will continue to be leaders in this space. T-Mobile will be next. Then Sprint unless they merge with T-Mobile. If that’s the case then a new number four player like Dish Network, Google Project Fi or others may suddenly be created.
Each year, the experience will get better and faster. Each year, we will see more products and services use this new technology. Each year we will see new companies from other industries us 5G making this marketplace even larger than it is today.
This will not only improve everything we already do on wireless, but it will empower new technologies and experiences as well.
Qualcomm is leader in 5G network and chip technology
First, we have to consider building the networks and then the products like smartphones. Qualcomm is a leader in 5G technology which networks use to build their capacity. Huawei is also leader, but they are banned in the US for privacy concerns. In fact, Huawei is reportedly going to lay off many workers in the United States.
Next, come the networks. Which carrier offers the best or fastest 5G service today is really not the question we should be asking. The networks will all get better and faster. We are still in the very early stages of this new wireless revolution which will play out over the next several years.
I would say today AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are the largest and should remain the strongest 5G wireless networks going forward.
DISH Network, Google Project Fi or Amazon may become fourth-place competitor
T-Mobile US will be next in line. Their problem is they don’t have enough spectrum. That has been a problem with them for a while. That’s why they want to merge with Sprint. They want to sink their teeth into Sprint’s spectrum.
Sprint will be the next wireless carrier in the race to 5G. They are the weakest carrier with regards to marketing, but they do have plenty of spectrum. That’s why they want to merge with T-Mobile.
If T-Mobile and Sprint merge, who will become fourth place leader? Will it be an existing wireless player or a new entrant like DISH Network, Google Project Fi or Amazon? They have all shown interest in entering wireless. This could be their big opportunity.
Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile are wireless followers
Xfinity Mobile from Comcast, and Spectrum Mobile from Charter resell Verizon Wireless. So, first Verizon has to offer 5G. Then these two cable TV companies can consider moving in the same direction.
Altice Mobile will resell Sprint when they eventually enter the wireless space. That means they will not likely have a rapid move into the 5G market unless and until the T-Mobile, Sprint merger happens.
None of these cable TV companies are dominant competitors in the wireless arena. They use wireless as another leg on their stool in order to hang onto their Internet and pay TV customer base. So far, their impact is very limited.
Wireless will go through major transformation in next few years
So, as you can see, the wireless industry is going through a major transformation. Not only with technology like 5G and all it will bring… not only with new competitors that may acquire assets and become new competitors… not only with how it will let other companies in other industries go wireless and transform their world, but all of this and much more.
That’s why I think we should all buckle our seatbelts because what I have been seeing so far at a variety of carriers and handset makers, is mind-blowing and we are still only in the first half of the first inning of this new game! Batter-up!
Disclosure: Disclosure: Jeff Kagan, like many researchers and analysts, provides or has provided research, analysis, advising, and consulting services to many companies, including AT&T, Sprint, Xfinity Mobile, IBM, PayPal and many others. For more information, as well as a detailed list of clients, visit www.jeffkagan.com. He does not hold equity positions with companies named in this column.