5G networks continue to go online across the United States. The largest telecom providers in the business hope to compete for customers wanting faster speeds and low latency. Not surprisingly, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile remain the biggest players in this fierce competition.

5G-Logo

Photo copyright 3GPP.

So, let’s take a look at the progress on these initial networks. What about their Internet speed tests? Are speeds rivaling fiber-optic broadband the norm? When are usable 5G smartphones hitting the market? Here’s our overview.

5G in America is Still a Work in Progress

The Wall Street Journal recently took a deep dive into the current status of 5G in America. Unfortunately, their findings reveal slow progress across the country.

Notably, reporter Joanna Stern found her Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphone has a tendency to overheat. This makes running 5G speed tests a difficult process, considering the current summer heat wave. For now, cooling it down helps the phone’s 5G antenna stay online.

In a perfect environment, Stern found speeds well above a gigabit on AT&T and Verizon’s network. However, Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks averaged closer to 300 Mbps. In all cases, speeds are significantly faster than older 4G technology.

Where is 5G Service Available?

Stern conducted the tests using nascent 5G networks in Denver, New York City, Chicago, and Atlanta. Other than Sprint, the network installations in these cities use high-band millimeter wave technology, limiting their range. As such, a 5G signal is only available in a small area.

Sprint’s initial 5G installations use mid-band technology, providing slower speeds over a longer distance. This is the prime reason for their less than gigabit speed tests. This speed vs. range trade-off remains an issue as 5G expands across the country.

Speaking of that expansion, 5G service is either online or planned in nearly every major city in the country. The only exception lies in the Northwest. A recent update from PCMag provides more details.

Even if 5G becomes available in your city, service remains spotty unless the smartphone is located outside and close to an antenna node. Sprint’s mid-band service doesn’t suffer from these proximity or overheating issues. Of course, with a lower speed as a result.

5G Smartphone Prices Remain High

Expect to pay upwards of at least $1,000 for a 5G smartphone. In addition to the Samsung S10 5G, the LG V50 is also available. Stern liked the $600 HTC 5G hub hotspot for “home” use on the Sprint network. A 5G iPhone isn’t expected from Apple until at least 2020.

Needless to say, 5G remains in an emerging phase. Even with its recent network expansion, expect limited availability. Few smartphone options and exorbitant prices also make it difficult to recommend purchasing one.

It appears 5G is still at least one to two years away from making a big impact for the consumer. Most early adopters are likely to reside in the business world for now.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get an Internet speed boost from your local ISP. Enter your ZIP code or give us a call at 800-990-0017 to see what high-speed options are available in your area.