Opensignal, a company specializing in measuring mobile network performance across the US, found that the launch of C-Band 5G and the continued expansion of other mid-band 5G has pushed the average performance of the fifth-generation network protocol past public Wi-Fi in the US.
In the new report, Opensignal analyzed mobile game performance and average download speeds for public Wi-Fi, 4G, and both mid-band and mmWave 5G.
Also: What is 5G? Your guide to the current generation of wireless communications
Asking users to grade their mobile gaming performance on each network technology using a 100-point scale, the measurement company found that mmWave 5G provided, by far, the best rating of any technology with a score of 81.8 out of 100. However, mid-band 5G -- which is typically somewhat slower than mmWave, but provides a much greater range -- still beat out public Wi-Fi networks with a score of 74.5 versus public Wi-Fi's rating of 72.
This performance survey focused on mobile gamers playing titles that Opensignal called "real-time multiplayer" games, such as PUBG, Fortnite, Arena of Valor, and several sports titles.
Opensignal noted that 5G surpassed Wi-Fi thanks in large part to its rapidly increasing average download speeds. Specifically, its latest test found a nationwide average download rate of 571.6Mbps for mmWave 5G. Of course, this is only available to those few that live or work in the relatively tiny areas where mmWave 5G is supported. That said, there's good news for mid-band 5G users as well, with that technology's average download rate now having grown to 112.9Mbps as a nationwide average.
Also: 5G rollout: Why C-Band matters so much
Even 4G beat out public Wi-Fi, averaging 32.5Mbps on a nationwide basis, compared to public Wi-Fi's 23.3Mbps. It should be noted that home and office Wi-Fi networks fared much better, rising to an average of 89.6Mbps. That does, however, still put them below mid-band 5G's score.
The reasons for the surprisingly poor performance of public Wi-Fi networks, according to Opensignal, include the congestion and interference problems inherent to crowded public spaces, the prevalence of "old or slow" fixed broadband foundations for these networks, and the use of outdated access point technology.
Interestingly, upload speed is one area where Wi-Fi continues to beat out everything but mmWave 5G. Opensignal found that mmWave 5G networks produced a nationwide average of 30.5Mbps, followed by public Wi-Fi's 19.5Mbps. Mid-band 5G trailed behind here with upload rates of 15.6Mbps, while 4G came in at just 7.9Mbps, on average.