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5G is still terrible unless you live in one of these places

Surprisingly, smaller cities seem to offer better coverage.

apple iphone with 5g
Image: KnowTechie

5G hasn’t become the panacea for our internet woes yet, with a slow roll-out of coverage and competing bands used in the US as the carriers decide to not break with tradition and argue with each other. A new report from WhistleOut has a deep dive into availability across the US, showing where the 5G is strongest.

If you’ve got a preconception that 5G is going to be better in major metro areas, prepare to be disappointed. Apart from Minneapolis, MN, which came in second, the majority of the top ten are all smaller cities.

Witchita, Kansas is the best place in the US if you absolutely need 5G, with over 99% coverage from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

The coverage maps don’t necessarily mean the fastest speeds though. Major cities like New York (29th) and Los Angeles (49th) both did poorly for coverage, but they have faster speeds as mmWave hotspots are studded around the metropolis.

Top 10 5G cities in the US

  • Wichita, KS
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Aurora, CO
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • Columbus, OH
  • Elk Grove, CA
  • Saint Louis, MO

That still doesn’t mean much though, as coverage > speeds when mmWave only reaches a very short distance before the 5G-enabled phones switch over to the sub-6GHz bands.

That’s not to say 5G won’t benefit the wider population eventually. It took about a decade for 4G (LTE) to be installed in enough places for solid coverage and speeds close to the promised ones at launch. 5G will possibly take even longer, as the pandemic has slowed the roll-out of new equipment.

Phone manufacturers are putting 5G radios in almost every new device, so the carriers now need to catch up.

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