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5G Network Coverage: Who Has the Best 5G Network?

a close up of a 5g logo with cell phone company logos in the background

With 5G networks expanding across the country and each major wireless carrier touting their growing coverage areas, people often ask us who has the best 5G network? Should you stick with your current provider, or is it time to switch cell phone companies?

In this article, we’ll give you a high-level overview of 5G coverage from the four major carrier networks in the US based on data sourced from the FCC National Broadband Map and wireless coverage maps available at AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and UScellular.

But, remember, the right wireless carrier for you is the one that offers the best overall coverage where you live and work, not necessarily the one with the biggest network. 5G is only part of the story — 4G LTE is still very much part of the coverage equation. And, for those living in rural areas where both 5G and 4G LTE can be spotty, older networks still play a role as well.

T-Mobile 5G Network

The T-Mobile 5G network covers over 40% of the US, significantly more than AT&T and Verizon, at just over 18% and 11%, respectively. While T-Mobile currently boasts the most expansive 5G nationwide coverage, its 5G speeds are not the fastest. That's because T-Mobile's early 5G focus was on low-band 600 MHz spectrum, a type of 5G that is only slightly faster than 4G LTE but was easier to quickly roll out to more folks than mid-band or high-band 5G.

Meanwhile, the T-Mobile 4G LTE network covers 62% of the country, behind AT&T at 68% and Verizon at 71%. That being said, T-Mobile is actively expanding its mid-band 5G coverage even as we write this article.

To evaluate T-Mobile coverage where you live, check out the this T-Mobile coverage map—just keep in mind that wireless coverage maps have their limitations, and are no guarantee of service within the four walls of your home.

Verizon 5G Network

The Verizon 5G network covers just under 15% of the US, with the most concentrated coverage in major metro areas. But when it comes to 4G LTE coverage, Verizon is the clear winner, reaching approximately 71% of the US.

The good news is that if you're on the Verizon 5G network, 5G connectivity is incredibly fast. Unlike T-Mobile, Verizon relies on high-band millimeter wave 5G, ensuring very quick mobile Internet speeds. Thus, if you live in an area with Verizon 5G connectivity and you rely on your phone for streaming media or playing games, Verizon could be the right carrier for you.

Here's the Verizon coverage map to check availability based on your location.

AT&T 5G Network

AT&T’s 5G coverage area is broader than that of Verizon, covering a little more than 18% of the country, and providing 5G connectivity in most of the densely populated areas of the US. Interestingly, AT&T is the only cell carrier that has 5G connectivity of some type in all 50 states. However, many of those states only have sporadic 5G coverage, so wherever you live, it's important to take into account not only 5G network availability, but also 4G LTE.

Here's the AT&T coverage map for reference.

UScellular 5G Network

Don’t count UScellular out from the competition. This smaller brand does have much less 5G coverage compared to the big three: only about 2% nationwide 5G coverage. But if it's available where you live, it could be a good fit for you — especially for budget-minded families and phone users. On the downside, UScellular also offers fewer 4G service areas compared to any of the other cell providers. You might find UScellular 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 UScellular is the least impressive of the 5G connectivity providers overall. Even if you have a powerful 5G-enabled phone, you’ll likely find that your home Internet service is 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?

Not necessarily.

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.

The Bottom Line

While this article and wireless coverage maps can help you understand relative 5G coverage by carrier, the question we should all be asking is not who has the best 5G network, but rather, who has the best overall coverage in my area.

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