5G in the US: Why is It Really Slow Compared to Other Countries?

5G in the US: Why is It Really Slow Compared to Other Countries?
5G in the US: Why is It Really Slow Compared to Other Countries? Photo : Jack Sloop

5G in the US is a welcome change. In this era of gaming desktops and mobile devices, having a high-speed connection is always advantageous. You certainly don't want to experience connection issues during crucial work or gaming moments.

What is 5G?

5G is the next-gen speed of mobile broadbands. It will eventually replace, or perhaps augment, the 4G LTE connection we've been all too familiar with. 5G speeds are exponentially faster than their predecessors. It can have a latency as low as 4 milliseconds for mobile. For Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication instances, it can have a whopping 1 millisecond latency.

Let's stop for a moment. Imagine you're streaming three 4K movies at once. With 4G LTE, that's still possible but with some minor hiccups. In an ideal situation, doing the same thing with a 5G connection is like a walk in the park. Imagine all those hi-res cat videos you can get your hands on.

Now don't get too excited just yet. Your place might have 5G available but your device should also be 5G-compatible.

5G in the US compared to other countries

Compared to its 4G-download speed of 28.9Mbps, the US's 5G speed is roughly 180% faster. Averaging at about 50.9Mbps, it's quite an upgrade. However, there are countries that have faster 5G speeds. Some even range between the 200Mbps to 400Mbps range.

OpenSignal reported these statistics. It used data from users who conducted speed tests between May 16 and August 14. Among 12 countries, the US came in last. All but one country had 5G speeds that are a least the twice of those of the US.

Let's first talk about the overall speed quality with 5G and 4G being used interchangeably. Globally, Saudi Arabia enjoys the overall fastest 5G connection in terms of download speed. At 144.5Mbps, it beats Canada with "just" 90.4Mbps. What's surprising is that given South Korea's highest 5G adoption rate, it just ranked third. Users of 5G in the UK have the slowest average download speed at just around 32.6Mbps.

Things change when we look at these countries' speed in just the 5G category. Saudi Arabia still tops the list. This time around, South Korea ranks second at an average of 312.7Mbps. This is more than five times the country's significantly fast 4G speeds. The U.K. places next while the US, Germany, and Netherlands drop into the last positions.

So why is 5G in the US slow?

Just to be clear, it's not really that slow. It's just that when compared to other countries, the US's 5G speeds seem to be struggling. So, the question is why?

It's all about the current network infrastructures of various ISPs like Verizon. You can't really just switch easily from 4G to 5G if we're talking about complicated network systems. The adoption isn't that fast compared to other countries. Verizon has a small 5G network, yet the US still ranks higher in 5G availability when compared to 5G speeds.

At this stage, 5G connectivity is still at its infancy but given the right amount of time, its adoption will gradually get traction.

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