NFL survey highlights major disparities in 5G performance

NFL fans are experiencing vastly different 5G coverage in stadiums depending on their carrier according to an Opensignal study covering 30 arenas.

In the mobile analytics company’s report, stadium users with Verizon recorded an average 5G download speed of 320.7 Mbps, which was more than twice as fast as T-Mobile (146 Mbps) and close to seven times faster than AT&T (46.7 Mbps).

Verizon 5G users also experienced the fastest average 5G upload speed of 26.1 Mbps, compared with 21.7 Mbps and 15.1 Mbps experienced by T-Mobile and AT&T users. Verizon users enjoyed the highest score in 5G Games Experience and 5G Voice App Experience, while having a statistically similar experience with T-Mobile users in Video Experience.

T-Mobile users enjoyed the highest 5G Availability of 50.5%, which was much higher than AT&T (22.9%) and Verizon (19.4%). This was more than 15 percentage points higher than T-Mobile’s national 5G Availability score.

Opensignal said Verizon’s superior performance is due to the company’s focus on using millimeter-wave spectrum (mmWave) — marketed as Ultra Wideband — to connect high-traffic dense urban areas and venues. In September, Verizon claimed its 5G Ultra Wideband service was available in parts of 25 out of a total of 30 NFL stadiums as it signed a new 10-year partnership with the NFL.

There was limited use of mmWave 5G networks by AT&T and T-Mobile users at the NFL stadiums and in their surroundings.

The report was carried out during the first three months of the first NFL season where 5G has been widely available in stadiums.

An Opensignal spokesperson said: “As fans flock back to NFL stadiums to cheer and support their favourite teams and players, having a strong mobile experience is key for attendees to enjoy and share their experience with family and friends online. And, unlike the last season pre-Covid in 2019-2020, 5G is now commonplace across the US.

“Opensignal data shows that the 5G experience was significantly better at NFL stadiums for our users on Verizon and T-Mobile than the overall mobile experience on those two carriers. For our AT&T users, 5G was better for upload speeds. However, it was our Verizon users that saw the largest improvements in their 5G mobile experience compared to the overall experience with Verizon.”

Taking into account overall mobile experience using 3G, 4G and 5G, Opensignal found that the three carriers had a statistically tied Download Speed Experience with average speeds of 46.9-49 Mbps. By contrast, Verizon users enjoyed the fastest Upload Speed Experience of 15.7 Mbps compared to T-Mobile (13.8 Mbps) and AT&T (12.4 Mbps).

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