AT&T is accelerating its 5G deployment in the company’s C-band spectrum holdings and its customers are benefiting with faster 5G download speeds.
According to an Opensignal report, AT&T users’ 5G download speeds increased 34.5% since March from 50 Mbps to 67.3 Mbps in September. The network measurement company attributes this rise to an uptick in readings coming from AT&T’s mid-band spectrum. Opensignal noted that in March when it measured AT&T users’ 5G download speeds only 4.6% of AT&T users were on mid-band spectrum compared to September when more than 30% of AT&T users were on the company’s mid-band spectrum.
AT&T has been fairly quiet about its progress with its mid-band 5G deployment lately. Last January CEO John Stankey told investors the company planned to accelerate its mid-band deployment in the summer and use one tower climb to simultaneously deploy 5G in both the C-band and 3.45 GHz band at the same time. Opensignal’s recent report seems to indicate that the company is following that timeline.
AT&T has 40MHz of the first available batch of C-band spectrum (known as A Block) and it has 40MHz of spectrum in the 3.45 GHz range, which it won during the FCC’s Auction 110.
But Opensignal warns that while AT&T has made significant progress recently, the company still is behind the competition. Opensignal also measured Verizon’s 5G download speeds and found that Verizon users’ average download speeds increased 15.8% from 70.3 Mbps in March to 81.4 Mbps in September. In addition, it said that in March when it measured Verizon users’ 5G download speeds 16.2% of Verizon users were on the company’s C-band spectrum and in September that number had grown to 46%.
Opensignal also said that 70% of AT&T customers’ 5G readings still occur on AT&T’s low-band 5G spectrum while 54% of Verizon customers’ 5G readings still occur on its low-band spectrum.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile continues to have the highest share of customers using its 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum. Opensignal said that when it measured its T-Mobile users, 71.5% were on the company’s mid-band spectrum. T-Mobile, of course, has been deploying 5G in its 2.5 GHz spectrum since mid-2020 so it’s not surprising that so many of its users are on the company’s mid-band spectrum. AT&T has said it plans to have 200 million POPs covered with its mid-band spectrum by the end of 2023. Verizon has more than 100 million POPs covered with C-band today and plans to have 175 million POPs covered by the end of this year.
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