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Enlarge / The blazing fast conclusion of Verizon's speed test. David Weissmann

It was a bit earlier than scheduled, but Verizon switched on parts of its 5G network today, debuting in "select areas" of Minneapolis and Chicago. Every carrier out there likes to slice and dice definitions to have the "First 5G" everything, but in terms of using a real, mmWave 5G signal and something approximating a 5G smartphone, Verizon has made the most progress yet in getting a 5G ecosystem up and running.

5G is still in its very early stages, with access in only a few cities and almost zero device support. So it's been hard to know what 5G will really be like in the real world. Verizon spokesperson David Weissmann shared the best look yet at 5G on Twitter, where he showed a real-life 5G speed test, running on a real smartphone, getting data from a real 5G tower. Specifically Weissmann was out in Minneapolis, pulled out his Verizon™ Moto Z3 phone with the Moto 5G Mod attached, and loaded up the Ookla Speedtest.net app. Behold his speed test:

Thrilled to be in Minneapolis as @verizon 5G UWB makes history!

Speed test here in front of US Bank Stadium

Impressive! pic.twitter.com/jvW4YlYPMA

— David Weissmann (@djweissmann) April 3, 2019

Weissmann's speed test ended with a blazing-fast 762Mbps down and a 19ms ping (the video does not show upload speeds). Unless you are rocking gigabit fiber Internet at home, this is probably much faster than your home Internet connection. Ookla's latest aggregate speed reports peg the average US mobile download speed at 27Mbps, while the average fixed broadband download in the United States is at 96Mbps.

Qualcomm's current 5G modem has a theoretically max speed of 5Gbps, but of course nothing is going to hit the theoretical maximum. Carriers are happy to crow about 5G rollouts and upcoming devices, but it's been rare to see actual numbers attached to 5G. Weissmann's test is the closest we've come so far to seeing what real 5G performance is like, and today's press release from Verizon claims "early customers in Chicago and Minneapolis should expect typical download speeds of 450Mbps, with peak speeds of nearly 1Gbps, and latency less than 30 milliseconds."

The latency here isn't great compared to the previous promises of 5G. Verizon's Home 5G Internet supposedly has 4-8ms latency, while for mobile Verizon is only promising around 30ms (and showing 19ms in the speed test). According to testing by OpenSignal, 4G LTE latency is usually around 54-64ms, so while this is a bit of an improvement, it's not quite as fast as we were expecting.

Verizons ideal circumstances

Now for the list of many caveats with this video and with 5G in general. Weissmann's test—which was probably pre-approved by Verizon—is being run under ideal circumstances. First, he is standing basically next to a 5G tower with a clear line of sight on a sunny day. Verizon's 5G equipment is actually visible in the frame of the video—it's all those boxes and antennas glommed onto the post lamp on the left. 5G's real problems come in range and penetration, so if you were indoors—or on the other side of a building, or if there was a tree in the way, or if you were further away from the tower—performance would be significantly worse. 5G even has problems with the weather, so on a rainy or foggy day, performance will suffer. 5G is all about building a network in the slice of spectrum we haven't used for other radio signals yet, and the reason this spectrum is available is becaRead More – Source

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Ars Technica

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