The latest Speedtest Global Index from Ookla report shows AT&T as the winner in 5G speeds. Per the report, average mobile download speeds overall improved significantly at the end of 2020, going from an average of about 47.13 Mbps in September to 67.33 Mbps in December. AT&T dominated in both 4G and 5G, with an Ookla Speedtest Speed Score of 50.27 – about three points higher than T-Mobile and nearly 10 points higher than fourth-place Verizon. Sprint placed third, a point ahead of Verizon (Sprint and T-Mobile are still being reported separately until the merger is fully complete).
After dramatic expansions by all the major carriers in 2020, 5G covered three quarters of the U.S. population as of January 1, 2021, with about 8% of mobile devices being 5G-capable. These numbers are expected to grow to 80% and 12%, respectively, by summer of this year.
On Tuesday the 19th, Qualcomm the chip giant releases the Snapdragon 870 5G is a follow-on to the capabilities of the Snapdragon 865 Plus, a 5G chipset with a speedy CPU and improved GPU in comparison to its predecessor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865.
The “boosted” Snapdragon 870 5G comes equipped with an enhanced Kyro 585 CPU, coming in at core clock speeds of up to 3.2GHz.
This Snapdragon 870 has been developed with mobile gaming in mind through the Snapdragon Elite Gaming system, display support for up to 4K at 60 Hz, updatable GPU drivers, and the implementation of Adreno Fast Blend to reduce rendering issues.
The concept of a car as a “computer on wheels” is moving past the realm of hype and closer to reality, which will transform the driving experience and improve everyday road safety, too. The arrival of long-promised technologies like 5G connectivity and new high-performance computers means cars will improve over time, instead of depreciating the minute they leave the dealer lot. With software updates, buyers will be able to add features or services that weren’t available at the time of purchase or enhance their ride with customized apps. This will all be handled over the 5G ultra-fast network. That will be able to handle large update as large as 50 Gb in just a few minutes. Once 5G is widely deployed, cars will also be able to communicate with each other and also with the surrounding ecosystem, providing situational awareness and helping to avoid collisions.
Samsung has announced its new Galaxy S21 family of Android phones, all of which support 5G: the Galaxy S21, the Galaxy S21+ and the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The Galaxy S21 will start at $799.99, the Galaxy S21+ starts at $999.99, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $1,199.99. All of the S21 family is available for preorder now, with the official release date set for January 29.
In addition to supporting 5G, the S21 family are the first devices powered by Qualcomm’s new flagship Snapdragon 888 processor. Samsung is also promoting the S21 series’ superior screens, improved battery life and better cameras versus last year’s Galaxy S20 phones.
The Federal Communications Commission’s auction for spectrum licenses on the C-Band, a mid-band spectrum between 3.7 and 4GHz, is reaching its end, and AT&T is looking to borrow $14 billion to finance its desired spectrum acquisitions. Bloomerg reports that Bank of America is leading the transaction, which is likely to be a 364-day delayed-draw term loan, with commitments due on January 2.
Experts agree that mid-band frequencies are critical for 5G usability, since they can provide both improved speeds vs 4G LTE while also providing better coverage than the superfast but extremely limited millimeter wave bands used by Verizon and AT&T. As of round 83 of the auction today, gross proceeds reached $80.86 billion, not including accelerated clearing payments and relocation costs to be paid by winners, which are estimated at $9.7 billion and $3.3 billion.
The winners of the auction won’t be known until later, but last week equity research firm Cowen estimated Verizon’s auction spend at $35 billion, AT&T at $20 billion and T-Mobile between $10-$15 billion. AT&T and Verizon are considered to be in the greatest need for this spectrum to allow them to better compete with T-Mobile.
“If T-Mobile spends less than we expect, Verizon or AT&T will likely account for the shortfall,” wrote New Street analyst Jonathan Chaplin in a note to investors Monday. “Neither company has the cash on hand to cover what we expect them to spend in the auction at present; we would expect more debt issuance for the group in coming weeks.”
The coming of 5G was supposed to change everything. But aside from tons of commercials and smartphones with a faster wireless connection and, at times, not even that the next-generation cellular technology has been a non-factor for most people. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg showed up to this year’s CES with a few real-world examples of how 5G will have an impact.
Verizon 5G and Drone control. While connecting drone deliveries Verizon is also working on this area through Skyward, a Verizon-owned business created to push cellular-connected drones. Verizon and Skyward are using 5G to connect delivery drones and are aiming to use them to deliver packages in The Villages in Florida with the help of UPS’s Flight Forward program. Vestberg said many of the drone deliveries that happened in 2020 were to transport critical supplies like medicine, but he hopes it will be broadened out. He said the only way to effectively coordinate and connect a massive number of drones in the air is through a cellular network, and 5G gives you the necessary capacity.
Verizon today announced expansions of their 5G service in several big cities. Beginning January 14, customers in parts of Arlington, TX; Miami, FL; Anaheim, CA; San Francisco, CA and St. Louis, MO can sign up for Verizon’s 5G Home Internet, with Phoenix, AZ to follow on January 28. Additionally, later this month, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service will become available in parts of Colorado Springs, CO; Columbia, SC and Knoxville, TN.
“We ended 2020 with 2,700 cities with Nationwide 5G service serving 230 million people, 61 cities with Ultra Wideband service, and 12 cities with access to our 5G Home service; and we’re not slowing down,” said Kyle Malady, Chief Technology Officer for Verizon. “We’re rolling out new services to more customers continuing the digital transformation Verizon has been driving.”
Verizon 5G Home Internet requires equipment specific to that service, while the 5G Ultra Wideband service will work on any of the 28 5G-capable phones and devices offered by Verizon.
T-Mobile and OnePlus have teamed up to launch a $300 5G phone, the Nord N10 5G. T-Mobile will be the exclusive US carrier for the N10, and it will be available to Metro prepaid users as well. At $300 with no promos or trade-ins needed, the N10 is T-Mobile’s most affordable 5G phone, even cheaper than the $400 Revvel 5G that debuted last year.
Unlocked versions of the N10 5G and the N100 LTE-only version will be available from OnePlus directly as well as at Best Buy, Amazon and B&H Photo Video, but Nord N10 5G will only support 5G on T-Mobile’s network.
The Nord N10 5G features a 6.49-inch 90Hz display at full HD Plus resolution and a 4,300-mAh battery. It runs on a Snapdragon 690 processor and supports 5G connectivity on T-Mobile’s low-band and midband network, which the carrier calls “Extended Range 5G” and “Ultra Capacity 5G.”
Qualcomm Incorporated known as QCOM recently unveiled the first 5G-backed 4th series mobile platform — Snapdragon 480 5G Mobile Platform. The Snapdragon 480 is to deliver best in class 5G connectivity to the mass volume, low-priced smartphone. The budget-friendly 4th series chipset line is primarily known for its robust connection and is equipped with Snapdragon X51 5G that supports 5G modes, frequencies, and spectrums at lightning speeds. Qualcomm is one of the largest manufacturers of wireless chipsets based on baseband technology.
After complaints from Verizon about a T-Mobile ad featuring Bill Nye in which T-Mobile 5G reliability is purported to be better than other carriers’, the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) asked them to stop advertising along those lines.
The ad features Nye explaining that Verizon’s 5G coverage, because it’s based on mmWave technology, has such poor range it can’t cover anything beyond the range the size of a bus stop. “Other carriers have 5G signals that drop if you move two feet. That’s because their 5G is based around millimeter wave, otherwise known as high band. For instance this is how far 5G reaches with our carriers,” Nye says in the ad, showing a small circle around a bus stop.
The NARB says T-Mobile should “discontinue claims and an accompanying demonstration that imply that other carriers’ 5G coverage is so limited in any area as to cover only the space taken up by a single bench.” The board also recommended T-Mobile “discontinue claims that imply that its 5G service is generally available in locations that have traditionally been challenging for cellular service,” and that they cannot imply that their 5G coverage is more reliable than 4G coverage.
The NARB’s recommendations are not requirements – they are a self-regulatory body with no governmental regulatory power. T-Mobile’s compliance is notable because carriers can opt to ignore the recommendations. AT&T went this route when requested to stop using its misleading “5G E” indicator added to customers’ phones earlier this year, which actually refers to their upgraded 4G network and is not 5G service.