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Survey: US consumers keen on 5G

September 9, 2021

Network benchmarking, analysis and testing specialist Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) has revealed that AT&T finished first in GWS’s annual OneScore ranking – which tests mobile network performance. As a result, AT&T earned the title of ‘Nation’s Best Network’, while Verizon finished second and T-Mobile placed third.

GWS’s OneScore ranking combines controlled, scientific tests of the major networks with consumer survey feedback that identifies performance factors and features most important to consumers. The 2021 OneScore survey also focused heavily on consumers’ perceptions on 5G availability and benefits, as 62 per cent of consumers surveyed indicated they had 5G coverage available where they lived.

Wireless Network Benchmarking Results

AT&T networks received top marks for video and voice performance as well as reliability, while Verizon had the fastest upload speeds and best coverage, and T-Mobile did the best on the network capacity stress tests. Highlights from GWS’ tests include:

  • Download Speeds – Verizon was awarded top marks for the small download task category, such as receiving app-related content or loading web pages, while AT&T dominated the large download task category (receiving photos and videos).
  • Upload Speeds – Verizon had the fastest upload speeds for both small and large upload tasks, such as posting social media content, photos, and videos. This is the second consecutive year Verizon notched victories in these categories.
  • Network Capacity Stress Tests – T-Mobile had the fastest average throughputs when GWS stress-tested the networks to highlight the maximum throughputs possible at any given time; Verizon was next followed by AT&T.
  • Data Reliability – AT&T had the highest success rate across the nation in completing data tasks followed by Verizon and then T-Mobile.
  • Video Streaming – AT&T performed best across the three video categories earning top marks in both video quality and least amount of buffering, and tying with Verizon for the quickest time to load a video.
  • Voice Calls – When asked if consumers could only use their cell phone for one function or service, consumers indicated that making or receiving voice calls was the most critical mobile phone function to them – continuing this trend from the last several OneScore surveys. AT&T met these consumers’ demands by topping the categories for best voice quality, voice accessibility (highest number of successful call initiations), and voice retainability (least number of dropped calls).
  • Coverage: AT&T and T-Mobile both increased their service coverage since our previous nationwide testing in 2020. However, Verizon still has the most coverage in the areas tested.
  • 5G: GWS’s annual evaluation found that AT&T had the most reliable 5G nationwide network (completing the most data transfer tasks performed on its 5G networks) while T-Mobile scored the fastest 5G throughput speeds during GWS’s network capacity stress tests. Overall, when looking at all the 5G test results (i.e., taking into account reliability, data tasks using different file sizes, and video testing) and factoring in consumer feedback, AT&T had the Best 5G OneScore followed by Verizon then T-Mobile. AT&T also had the Best 5G Video OneScore followed by Verizon then T-Mobile (taking into account video quality, least amount of buffering, quickest time to load, and video success rate along with customer feedback).

“Most third-party wireless network benchmarking organisations fail to account for a critical component of network performance in their analysis – the wants and needs of consumers who use these networks,” said Dr Paul Carter, founder and CEO of GWS. “Each year, GWS seeks out consumer feedback through the survey portion of the OneScore. This year’s survey results showed consumers were considerably more aware and excited about 5G than they were in 2020.”

OneScore 5G Consumer Survey Results

The 2021 survey portion of the OneScore specifically focused on consumer perceptions around 5G availability, benefits and usage. Key findings include:

  • Consumer awareness and enthusiasm for 5G improved significantly from the previous year. Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of consumers said 5G coverage was available where they lived, up from 46 per cent in 2020. Furthermore, nearly 75 per cent of respondents are excited or somewhat excited at the prospects that 5G brings for future innovation.
  • AT&T subscribers tapped into 5G benefits the most. 73 per cent of AT&T subscribers noted they had 5G coverage where they live and 61 per cent said they had accessed 5G on their AT&T smartphone this year.
  • 5G drives increased smartphone gaming. 76 per cent of consumers who had access to 5G on their current smartphone played more than one hour of games on their phone, compared to only 56 per cent of consumers who played games on their 4G phone.


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