Signals Flash! We've got you Covered (to varying degrees)

Signals Flash! We've got you Covered (to varying degrees)

Insight into 5G coverage - all bands, all operators, one representative market

10/18/2023 | 26 pages

In this Signals Flash, we provide results from a drive test study that we did which leveraged the Rohde & Schwarz TSMA6 scanner to accurately map out likely 5G coverage for 4 major US operators and all their 5G bands in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul market.

Our Thanks.  A special thanks once again to Rohde & Schwarz (R&S) for the use of their TSMA6 scanner to capture all the data, along with Spirent Communications (Umetrix Data) for two sidebar studies we include in this report. We also used these solutions in our forthcoming Signals Ahead study of the DISH Wireless network performance in Las Vegas.

Signal Strength.  Coverage, based on signal strength (RSRP), generally favored the lower frequency bands for all four operators. Verizon (100% probability) and AT&T (100% probability) took top honors for their Band n5 coverage, followed by DISH Wireless (94%) and T-Mobile (93%) with their Band n71 networks. Ironically, the T-Mobile Band n41 coverage was very similar to its Band n71 coverage, despite the differences in propagation.

Signal Quality.  Coverage, based on signal quality (SINR), favored the mid-band TDD networks. We believe the SINR metric is more useful than RSRP since SINR also influences network performance, while RSRP is largely relegated to handovers and defining cell boundaries. T-Mobile Band n41 (93%) took top honors.

DISH Wireless.  DISH Wireless is doing reasonably fine in our area with its network buildout, albeit based entirely on scanner data. Its n70 and n66 coverage (both 59%), based on SINR, wasn’t far off from Verizon n77 (67%) and AT&T n77 (63%). While we firmly believe the network wasn’t commercial when we first started this endeavor (we explain), all signs indicate the entire network now supports commercial traffic with an out-of-the-box Motorola edge+ smartphone.

DSS and LTE-M.  Both Verizon (n5) and AT&T (2 @ n66) have 5G and LTE deployed in the same frequency. Specifically, they are both using LTE-M (1.4 MHz channel bandwidth) in the same channel where they have deployed 5G. Understanding the scheduling behavior could be an interesting study (stay tuned). Band n66 usage on AT&T will increase with 5G SA – our S22 never used it, instead opting for two n77 channels and LTE for the anchor band.