The 5G rollout is currently progressing across the country, leading many to wonder if they should stick with their current cell providers or swap to a different cell carrier. If you’re wondering who has the best 5G network, read on.
We’ll explore the differences between the 5G plans available from each of the big carrier companies.
T-Mobile’s 5G Network
The 5G network from T-Mobile is a reversal of the brand's 4G LTE network, which currently needs improvement compared to the one offered by Verizon and AT&T. In any case, T-Mobile’s network has the most coverage overall, clocking in at about 54% of the U.S.
This dwarfs the 5G coverage from both AT&T and Verizon combined. 5G signals from T-Mobile reach over 3000 cities and over 9000 distinct ZIP Codes. More importantly, T-Mobile and Starlink have partnered for even better satellite-to-cellular coverage, helping to reduce and even eliminate dead zones in certain areas.
All told, this is the ideal 5G wireless network if you want to rely on 5G coverage and download speeds no matter where you happen to go in the contiguous U.S. This mobile network also has pretty generous data plans for 5G phones, whether they are Apple iPhones or Android phones like Samsung Galaxy phones.
Verizon’s 5G Network
Verizon’s 5G network coverage isn't terrible, but it's also nothing to write home about. It covers about 13% of the contiguous U.S., offering reasonable, though not stellar, coverage for several major metro areas. This is in stark contrast to the carrier's 4G LTE network, which spans approximately 71% of the contiguous U.S.
On the bright side, 5G connectivity from Verizon is always astoundingly fast. That's because Verizon relies on high-band millimeter wave 5G, ensuring very quick mobile Internet speeds. Thus, if you live in one of the coverage areas with good Verizon 5G connectivity, this could still be a stellar carrier for streaming media, playing games, and much more.
It may be that Verizon will take the cake as the best 5G network provider once it expands its market reach. Its high-speed 5G service could blow other providers’ mid-band service out of the water, making it the perfect choice for 5G access powerful smartphones.
AT&T 5G Network
AT&T’s 5G coverage map is a little more extensive than that offered by Verizon, covering about 30% of the country. As a result, you can rely on 5G connectivity from AT&T in most of the closely populated areas of the U.S.
Importantly, AT&T is the only cell carrier that has 5G connectivity of some type in all 50 states. While many of those states only have sporadic 5G coverage, that's still an important fact. It could also make AT&T the best choice if you live in a rural area, look at the map, and find that AT&T is the only network provider that offers good 5G coverage where you happen to live.
Note that the situation may change in the near future as well. AT&T was able to boost its nationwide coverage from a little over 18% to 30% in about a year, so time will tell whether it is able to repeat the feat and take the crown as the "best network coverage provider" from Verizon sometime over the next few years. If it upgrades to 5G technology and 5G availability, it may also become the premier provider of premium cell phone plans with fast speeds.
U.S. Cellular 5G Network
Don’t count US Cellular out from the competition. This smaller brand does have much less 5G coverage compared to the big three: only about 2% nationwide 5G coverage.
That said, U.S. Cellular’s plans are highly cheap and the best for budget-minded families and phone users. On the downside, U.S. Cellular also offers fewer 4G service areas compared to any of the other cell providers. You might find U.S. Cellular to be a good choice if you live in Iowa, as it offers 5G signals across 20% of that state.
Still, there's no denying that U.S. Cellular is the least impressive of the 5G connectivity providers overall. Even if you have a powerful phone like a Google Pixel, you’ll find that your home Internet service is likely a bit faster compared to the 5G service you can expect here. You may also encounter significant latency depending on where you try to make a call or use hotspot data.
Does Coverage Correlate With Download Speed?
It's true that 5G connectivity usually results in faster download and surfing speeds compared to 4G LTE connectivity. However, just because a cell carrier provides 5G download speeds in your area doesn't mean that they will provide you with overall faster download speeds no matter what.
For example, T-Mobile has the most 5G network coverage, providing over half the country with ostensible 5G connectivity. That said, Verizon has the fastest connectivity overall. That's because its high band 5G ultra wideband millimeter wave (mmWave) network is best in class and provides overall phenomenal performance for its subscribers.
Because of this, you may see theoretically faster speeds with Verizon, perhaps up to 2.5 Gb per second with 5G connectivity. However, remember that T-Mobile still offers consistent 5G speeds of over 160 Mbps.
To summarize, the actual download speeds you’ll enjoy from a cell carrier depend heavily on your location, your phone, and the infrastructure the carrier uses to provide 5G signals to its customers.
Try Navi Today
As you can see, T-Mobile has the overall best 5G network, although the other major carriers also have their own perks and advantages. If you’re still searching for the right cell carrier plan, Navi can help.
Our Plan Navigator service could be just what you need to find the ideal cell plan for your budget, family, and other needs. Try it today to see for yourself!