We’ve been hearing about the potential of 5G for what seems like forever. But the reality is that, at least in the U.S., 5G accessibility, speeds, and overall experience depend heavily on where you live.
According to an extensive OpenSignal survey, ranking the states in terms of 5G is a bit of a mess, but there are at a few useful takeaways. The survey looked at download speed, video playback, gaming, and 5G availability in all 50 states and across 250 cities.
While every state has 5G, the East Coast generally had the best experience, followed by the West Coast and then the Great Lakes region. Overall, New Jersey had the best all-around experience, while New York had the fastest 5G download and gaming speeds. As far as availability, Illinois and Texas topped the list. Surprisingly, while Vermont ranked near the bottom for availability and download speeds, the state tied for best video experience along with Nebraska and South Dakota. So as you can see, it’s somewhat of a crapshoot.
You can check out OpenSignal’s full survey here, but here’s a summary of the highlights.
Illinois, Texas, Nevada, Hawaii, and New Jersey round out the top five in terms of 5G availability. However, a total of 27 states managed to achieve more than 20% availability. This particular metric is the amount of time users with a 5G device and compatible plan actually had an active 5G connection. At the bottom of the list, you have Vermont, along with New Hampshire, Maine, Wyoming, and North Dakota.
Another obvious takeaway was that states with higher urban populations also had greater 5G availability. Meaning, carriers seem to be following the same roadmap as with broadband, leaving more rural areas in a bind.
New York topped download speeds with an average of over 100Mbps when connected to 5G networks. Maryland and New Jersey were close behind, while Virginia and Rhode Island rounded out the top five. On the other end of the spectrum, Vermont was at the bottom with 42.2 Mbps. Maine, Mississippi, and West Virginia also fell below the 50 Mbps mark. On average, however, more than half the states managed to see speeds of at least 70 Mbps.
Here’s where things get a bit funky: 49 states managed a “good” score when it came to watching video. Alaska was the only one to have a “fair” rating. That said, none of the top five states with the fastest download speeds made the top five here. That honor belongs to Nebraska, Vermont (which so far has ranked at the very bottom), South Dakota, Michigan, and Delaware. According to OpenSignal, a lot of that could have to do with latency. Also, the video results indicate that just because you have a 5G plan, doesn’t mean you’re going to see better video streaming. You still have to have a good 5G plan.
As for gaming, the best experience was almost exclusively found on the East Coast—the main exception being Nebraska. The top five states here are New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Rhode Island. At the bottom are Mississippi, Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, and Florida.
It shouldn’t be hugely surprising that the 5G experience can vary so widely. On the whole, 5G is still in its infancy and carriers are still working to build out their 5G infrastructure. Overall, however, it does appear that coverage is improving. While the speeds may not always be impressive, there have been significant gains over the past two years. If you’re debating whether you want to take the plunge and upgrade to a 5G phone with a 5G data plan, you can also check out Gizmodo’s State of 5G in 2021 and our guide to which 5G phones are actually worth the money.