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Verizon’s super-fast mmWave 5G is great, but good luck accessing it

Maybe we should be calling it “Not quite 5G yet.”

verizon logo on globe background
Image: KnowTechie

Everyone from tech sites to mobile carriers to smartphone and laptop makers has tried to sell us on the dream of 5G and its super-fast speeds and always-available connectivity for years now.

That dream isn’t quite over yet, but the dreary reality is starting to set in, with a new report from OpenSignal that shows that the actual speeds people are getting on 5G aren’t living up to the promises.

Part of that is squarely on the shoulders of the carriers, as the roll-out of coverage is slow, and for some reason they decided to use spectrum bands that aren’t being used by the rest of the world, reducing the number of different handsets that can be used in the US.

One of those bands that the rest of the world isn’t really using is mmWave, touted by Verizon as ultra-fast, and potentially cancer-curing.

It has the potential for gigabit speeds, but are there any users actually managing that? Well, OpenSignal‘s analysis says that Verizon’s users are only on mmWave for 0.8-percent of the time. Less than one percent! Sheesh.

chart showing average percentage of time mobile users in the US are connected to 5g speeds
Image: OpenSignal

They also found that Verizon users had managed top speeds of 692.9 Mbps, which is impressive but less than the touted gigabit speeds. Then again, I’ve got gigabit fiber from Verizon FiOS and their version of gigabit only goes to 880 Mbps anyway, so using that same translation, mmWave 5G is also gigabit.

The real point of all of this? 5G networks in the US don’t have the coverage yet to support the lofty claims of the carriers. That’s not really surprising though, 4G or LTE as it’s now known has been around for a decade and it’s only just showing the promised speeds. Maybe 5G will finally live up to its promises in 2030.

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