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Testing AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile 5G with 70,000 friends

Final week, when the positive of us at AT&T invited me to come back right down to New Orleans and take a look at one in all their catastrophe restoration websites, in addition they included a little bit perk: The prospect to attend the NCAA Males’s School Basketball Championship recreation. Personally, I’m not a basketball fan, and even much less so a school sports activities fan, however I did see a possibility. 5G carries numerous guarantees, which embody elevated pace and decrease latency. That’s nice, however the third pillar of 5G greatness — bandwidth — has by no means manifested itself for me.

I’ve been carrying 5G telephones for the reason that first U.S. 5G community was inbuilt my hometown of Chicago. Since then, I’ve been to baseball video games, concert events, and theme parks, and the identical factor all the time occurs. My smartphone primarily turns into a paperweight, except I’ve had the forethought to obtain podcast episodes beforehand.

So, when AT&T informed me I’d be sitting in a room with 70,000 of my closest buddies, I eagerly jumped on the probability to see the place issues stand in 2022.

So, when AT&T informed me I’d be sitting in a room with 70,000 of my closest buddies, I eagerly jumped on the probability to see the place issues stand in 2022. In my suitcase to New Orleans, I packed three Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultras, one every for AT&T, Verizon, and T-Cellular. Two of the S22 Ultras have been unlocked overview samples offered by Samsung and AT&T respectively. The third was my private T-Cellular branded S22 Extremely that I bought on launch day.

In the course of the recreation, I took all three telephones and roamed the sector, from the seats on the ground (thanks AT&T) all the best way to the nose-bleeds in part 645. I circled the whole area through the course of and coated about as a lot floor as one fats man with a foul knee can cowl within the area of a 40-minute recreation (basketball video games have halves, not quarters — who knew?)

So, let’s discuss concerning the journey.

Flooring stage

5G test with a basketball game in the background.
AT&T, Flooring stage

I began my journey on the ground on the wonderful seats AT&T offered me. Particularly, I sat in row 24 of the ground. I couldn’t see the divots on the basketball, however it was shut. I questioned what 5G could be like there within the coronary heart of the motion.

AT&T Down AT&T Up Verizon Down Verizon Up T-Cellular Down T-Cellular Up
229 0.45 0.21 0 N/A N/A

That’s a tremendous obtain pace for AT&T, however the add pace isn’t nice. T-Cellular and Verizon are principally no-shows right here. So, I made a decision to hunt 5G elsewhere.

200 stage, KU aspect

I made my method again to the concourse and headed counter-clockwise for no specific cause. I wandered over to the doorway to the not-really-floor, not-really-mezzanine part of the stadium. From right here, you couldn’t see a couple of third of the sport. I’m wondering if there’s something on Netflix!

AT&T Down AT&T Up Verizon Down Verizon Up T-Cellular Down T-Cellular Up
697 2.48 16.5 0.54 N/A N/A

Properly, if you happen to’re on AT&T, you’re good to go. Verizon had a greater displaying right here, however not by a lot. T-Cellular nonetheless hasn’t proven up but. Possibly a map will assist us discover 5G.

300 Stage

5G test in front of a map of the Superdome.
AT&T, 300 stage

I discovered a map of the stadium, which confirmed the place I used to be, however wouldn’t it present me the place all of the 5G was? The primary half was winding down, so I needed to begin hustling a little bit bit.

AT&T Down AT&T Up Verizon Down Verizon Up T-Cellular Down T-Cellular Up
41.6 13.8 103 10.3 3.91 0.03

Properly, whats up T-Cellular! Glad you could possibly be part of us! This was additionally the one place the place Verizon outshone AT&T, although each reported fairly good speeds, all issues thought of. Spoiler alert: T-Cellular would languish within the single digits the whole evening, so don’t get your hopes up.

400 stage

I used to be a couple of quarter of the best way across the stadium, and I got here throughout a surprisingly empty bar space. I considered kicking again and having a chilly one, however I had work to do. Complimentary beads have been in every single place, so I donned a couple of earlier than working my subsequent checks.

AT&T Down AT&T Up Verizon Down Verizon Up T-Cellular Down T-Cellular Up
101 21.1 79.2 11.8 2.51 0.01

AT&T and Verizon have been on fairly equal footing right here, with T-Cellular nonetheless lagging behind. Possibly the issue is I wasn’t excessive sufficient. That have to be it, so I leapfrogged the opposite ranges and went straight to the highest!

600 stage

5G test with a basketball game in the background.
AT&T, 600 stage

Means up right here within the 600 stage, I obtained to soak up a part of the half-time present and remedy a little bit of my acrophobia, which is a pleasant bonus. I sat as excessive as I may with my again towards the skin wall to see if that may assist. For one firm, it did.

AT&T Down AT&T Up Verizon Down Verizon Up T-Cellular Down T-Cellular Up
860 21.4 8.11 0 5.79 0.04

Holy Toledo! AT&T actually did 100 instances higher than its two opponents. That’s stunning. I assumed the rafters could be the apparent place to place 5G antennas, and subsequently, being near them would assist. That was not the case in any respect. Possibly it’s time to go again down then.

500 stage, North Carolina aspect

I used to be on my method again down, and about two-thirds of my method across the Superdome, after I by accident stole somebody’s seat to run a fast take a look at on the balcony overlooking the court docket. He obtained again earlier than I used to be finished, however he was good sufficient to let me end my final take a look at.

AT&T Down AT&T Up Verizon Down Verizon Up T-Cellular Down T-Cellular Up
253 0.24 6.79 3.29 N/A N/A

It appears Verizon and T-Cellular don’t like heights any greater than I do. AT&T nonetheless appears fairly comfy although, in order that’s good to know.

300 stage

Lastly, I arrived at my final cease on my method again to my seat. I used to be on the 300 stage about three-quarters of the best way across the stadium in an outer midway. This a part of the  300 stage is reserved for suites, and regardless of my greatest efforts, they wouldn’t let me in. I needed to attempt.

AT&T Down AT&T Up Verizon Down Verizon Up T-Cellular Down T-Cellular Up
109 37.5 67.9 10.8 N/A N/A

As soon as once more, AT&T and Verizon discovered themselves on equal footing, and as soon as once more, T-Cellular didn’t actually present up. That’s disappointing. I returned to my seat on the ground stage simply in time to see Kansas College tie up the sport and pull forward. It was fairly thrilling. I made a decision to run one final take a look at. I fired up Netflix and tried downloading the entire season of The Final Dance from Netflix. AT&T managed the feat in 4 minutes and 33 seconds. Verizon and T-Cellular didn’t transfer the needle.

For reference, I took images of my pace checks that you just’re welcome to peruse beneath.

Conclusions

So what does this all imply? Is AT&T the superior community? No, that’s not what it means. I first have to level out that pace testing is just not the one take a look at one can conduct to find out community high quality. Nevertheless, it’s the one which makes essentially the most sense, and it’s the one that may be accomplished by one particular person within the span of a 40-minute basketball recreation.

Secondly, I reached out to all three carriers with the outcomes of my take a look at and discovered a couple of issues alongside the best way. The Caesar’s Superdome is barely older than I’m, having been inbuilt 1975. Due to that, any 5G, and certainly any mobile infrastructure on the whole, needed to have been added afterward — method afterward. The constructing wouldn’t have been constructed with wi-fi know-how in thoughts in any respect.

AT&T has been constructing its community in New Orleans and, particularly, on the Superdome for the previous 18 months or so. Plus, think about the context. It’s not like AT&T was going to fly me to New Orleans, hand me a cellphone, and hope that it carried out nicely. This has been a very long time coming.

Verizon dealt with about half the site visitors within the Superdome by itself.

Verizon reported that it dealt with about half the site visitors within the Superdome by itself. Verizon recorded 35,000 related units within the Superdome out of 70,000. So, Verizon was carrying extra load than the opposite two carriers by loads.

On T-Cellular’s finish, a spokesperson had loads to say. Put merely, in and across the New Orleans space, T-Cellular has the “largest and quickest 5G community in New Orleans. As well as, T-Cellular has the quickest total community (4G and 5G mixed) in New Orleans.” As for the Superdome, T-Cellular’s set up undertaking is underway and is anticipated to be prepared for the beginning of the 2022 NFL season.

Principally, this quantities to 3 issues. AT&T obtained there first, Verizon dealt with essentially the most site visitors (humblebrag), and T-Cellular will preserve you related as soon as you permit. What’s particularly good is that, even in a crowd of 70,000 individuals, some progress is being made. It makes me maintain out hope that the promise of 5G could also be right here. Lastly, we’ll have connectivity irrespective of the place we’re or how many individuals we’re with. Clearly, there may be extra work to be finished, but when I’m being completely sincere, my testing didn’t go as badly as I anticipated. 5G has made a ton of progress within the three years because it launched, however there’s nonetheless a protracted solution to go.

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