5G promises greatly improved download/upload speeds, lower latency, and greater overall capacity for the growing number of internet-connected devices around the globe. But the initial tests of AT&T's 5G network show that current customers aren't really getting much greater than 4G speeds at best.
In a Reddit post first spotted by PCMag, mwb6d reported on the results they were receiving in the Indianapolis area. Needless to say, they weren't much better than 4G LTE. As you can see in the SpeedTest result below, mwb6d recorded download speeds of 194.88 Mbps and upload speeds of 17.08 Mbps. The ping was listed at 77ms.
Now compare those numbers to AT&T's own 4G LTE network (also from mwb6d), and you'll be left scratching your head:
That's right, the 5G numbers barely outperformed for downloads, and doubled the upload speeds. Even taken that into account, neither uplink result is actually mind-blowing compared to what's possible on today's 4G LTE networks.
For comparison, below is my own result on AT&T's 4G LTE network using an iPhone X in rural North Carolina (about 20 miles southeast of Raleigh):
"Results were wildly inconsistent depending on the server, and most Indianapolis servers performed poorly," wrote mwb6d. "I was expecting much lower pings than LTE, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Tested right across the street from a rooftop mounted site that is only 3 stories high. RSRP -58, RSRQ -8. USB tethered to a Windows 10 laptop."
Of course, this is just one result, but it's just indicative of the fact that your mileage may vary when it comes to emerging technologies like 5G. It's highly likely that AT&T was trying to rush things just to meet its self-imposed "5G in 2018" deadline, so this is what we are left with.
At the moment, AT&T's 5G service (and the accompanying Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot) is being provided for free to select customers and businesses. When the service "officially" goes live in the Spring, it will cost $70 per month with a 15GB cap.
Third-place U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile has lambasted both AT&T and Verizon's efforts with 5G thus far. "Some asked us why we aren’t clamoring to be part of this cluster," said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray. "The answer is simple. We don’t have time or resources to waste on that BS. The other guys are gigantic corporations with money and time to burn."