Impressive Data Speed Gains Put Chicago in a Promising Position as 5G Nears, IHS Markit Reveals

LONDON–Chicago made news as one of the first 5G-enabled cities in the world when Verizon launched its service in April. But even the best and fastest 5G service won’t be available at all times, for all users. Consistent performance on existing 4G LTE networks will be needed as 5G rolls out to assure the best overall mobile experience for consumers. Recent testing from RootMetrics by IHS Markit, the standard for mobile performance benchmarking, shows that impressive improvements by the carriers in Chicago have created a strong foundation for 5G networks to build upon.

According to the 1H 2019 Chicago Metro RootScore Report, Verizon dominated the mobile performance race, sweeping the awards for the third straight testing period and earning outright wins in overall performance, network reliability, data and call performance. While Verizon leads the mobile competition across Chicago, all the carriers scored wins of their own in RootMetrics data performance testing.

Data Performance Improves in Chicago

As the carriers plan for 5G services in Chicago, the latest RootMetrics report reveals current LTE speeds are improving. Since the last round of testing, AT&T’s median download speed increased from 25.4 Mbps to 36.5 Mbps, while Sprint’s median download speed jumped significantly, from 18.5 Mbps to 34.9 Mbps. Sprint also more than doubled its median upload speed, from 2.1 Mbps to 4.5 Mbps. Despite those improvements, Verizon once again separated itself from the pack, recording the fastest median download speed at 40.8 Mbps.

“Our recent testing in the Chicago metro area shows continued performance improvement as carriers and consumers ready for 5G,” said Francis Sideco, vice president, technology at IHS Markit. “While Verizon leads the rankings, significant download speed improvements from AT&T and Sprint along with strong upload speed from T-Mobile suggest that all the carriers see Chicago as a key market for mobile innovation. We’re already testing 5G speeds in South Korea and will be testing 5G performance in Chicago in the very near future. We look forward to seeing how 5G speeds in Chicago will compare to the LTE speeds we recently found in the city.”

This marks the seventeenth time IHS Markit has tested the mobile networks in Chicago and issued findings for the metro area. RootScore Reports provide a scientific, independent, consumer-focused assessment of mobile network performance.

Comprehensive Testing

To evaluate the mobile experience in Chicago, IHS Markit conducted tests across all hours of the day and night from May 3 through May 15. Using smartphones purchased off the shelf at carrier stores, tests were conducted at 242 indoor locations and while driving 4,547 miles. For details about testing, see the methodology section of the RootMetrics by IHS Markit website.

A Holistic Look at 5G

As network operators across the globe race to deploy 5G, IHS Markit has launched “ 5G First Look ,” a new service that provides insight into the world of 5G and how 5G networks perform from the consumer’s perspective. It includes 5G readiness benchmarks, 5G smartphone teardown analysis and first look results from 5G network performance testing in South Korea, the United States, Switzerland and the United Kingdom—with more countries and regions added as 5G networks are launched across the globe.

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