Australian 5G is slower than its 4G, says Opensignal survey

09 July 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Users of the first 5G services in Australia get slower connections than people on 4G – while Spanish 5G users get no measurable improvement.

The surprising revelation comes from a survey from Opensignal (see chart), which has researched 4G and 5G speeds in eight countries across the world.

Most 5G networks were faster than their associated 4G services – but not by much, the Opensignal figures show. In the UK, the 5G service was only 1.3 times as fast as 4G, probably because, according to the research company, “the first operator to launch 5G only has 40MHz of suitable spectrum which is far below 5G technology’s 100MHz channel size sweet spot”. However, an Opensignal report earlier in 2019 showed that UK 4G networks were struggling to offer a good experience

The company notes: “There are few 5G services currently using 5G’s ideal 100 MHz channel size.”

The company reports: “The highest maximum speeds were seen by 5G users in the USA with 1815Mbps, which is approximately three times as fast as 4G users’ maximum speed.” Opensignal carried out its research in April, May and June this year.

Opensignal added: “Switzerland followed in second place with 1145Mbps and South Korea ranked third with 5G users’ maximum speed of 1071Mbps. The speeds we measured in these three leading countries were significantly faster than the maximum speed in European markets where 5G has only just launched.”

Operators in the US are able to use millimetre wave spectrum for 5G, notes Opensignal. “This is extremely high capacity and extremely fast spectrum but has very limited coverage compared with the 3.4-3.8GHz 5G mid-band spectrum typically used in most of the other countries we analysed.”

Openreach notes sardonically that its figures tend to be lower than those published by operators. “The speeds we measure represent the typical real-world experience of smartphone users,” while operators will often use “dedicated test servers that are often located very close to a user inside the same operator’s network”.