Early 5G networks are more than two times faster than 4G

(Image credit: Shutterstock) (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The US currently has the fastest 5G speeds in the world, according to new tests from Opensignal, with users able to access up to 1.8Gbps on their devices.

This is 2.7 times faster than the 678Mbps maximum achievable on US 4G networks - an early indicator of the performance gains afforded by next generation infrastructure.

Opensignal, which records ‘real life’ readings from user smartphones, tested networks in eight countries where 5G is already available – including the UK.

Opensignal 5G

It attributed the US’s strong performance to the fact that operators there are using millimetre Wave (mmWave) spectrum that offers high capacity but shorter range. This compares to all other nations which are using mid-range spectrum below 6GHz.

In second place was Switzerland, where 5G users can enjoy 1.1Gbps (a 2.6-fold increase), while Australia was the only country where 4G outpaced 5G. This can be explained by the fact that Australia’s 4G networks can reach 950Mbps – close to the theoretical maximum.

The UK had the slowest speeds of all countries tested with a maximum of 569Mbps – 1.3 times that of 4G. EE 5G launched in several major cities earlier this year, but Opensignal suggests its 40MHz of usable spectrum is below the 100MHz ‘sweet spot’ at present.

Vodafone launched its 5G network on July 3 – after Opensignal’s testing was conducted – while Three and O2 have plans to go live in 2019.

However, Opensignal believes that the 5G experience will improve quickly as operators rollout out new spectrum and iterations of the technology allow for the combination of multiple bands.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.