AT&T's new 5G mobile network underwhelms US users

The new 5G network – now live in 12 US cities – has so far presented inconsistent data speed, with many users complaining it is no faster than 4G LTE

2Jan

Users within the coverage area of AT&T's new 5G network, which has been launched across 12 major US cities, have taken to social media to share their displeasure with the new network's mediocre speeds, with many noting that it's not much faster than 4G LTE.

PCMag reported on speed tests conducted by users, with one Redditor, mwb6d, posting download speeds of 194.88Mbps, upload speeds of 17.08Mbps and latency of 77ms. While not bad by 4G LTE standards, this is nowhere near the theoretical 625Mbps many network providers were priming the public to expect.

"Results were wildly inconsistent depending on the server," described mwb6d. "Most Indianapolis servers performed poorly. I was expecting much lower pings than LTE, but that doesn't seem to be the case."

Until the network gets more coverage, it is unlikely these speeds will improve significantly any time soon.

AT&T has also come under scrutiny for displaying "5G E" on Android devices connected to its network as there are no actual 5G enabled smartphones available on the market yet. While framed as a marketing ploy which is unlikely to fool most tech enthusiasts, many think this deception will hurt the technology's reputation as millions of users may think they are now on the supposedly faster network but would have noticed no significant improvements to their service.

So far, the only 5G-enabled product consumers can buy is the Netgear Nighthawk 5G hotspot, which has also suffered from the same mediocre speed issues. In order to have a truly 5G enabled smartphone, consumers will need a new 5G-ready phone equipped with newer radios and antennas and, as PCMag further illuminated, all early 5G devices will still need a 4G connection to function. 

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