UK outpaced by other 5G nations despite modest speed increase

(Image credit: O2)

5G networks powered by mid-range spectrum offer speeds close to those enabled by higher capacity millimetre Wave (mmWave) frequencies, Opensignal’s latest figures have suggested.

5G will use a mixture of low, mid and high-band spectrum, each of which offers a combination of range and capacity.  

The US, which is using mmWave spectrum, still has the world’s fastest maximum speed of 1.8Gbps – however this remains unchanged from Opensignal’s first round of 5G testing back in July.

5G network speeds

However Australia has witnessed a huge increase of 500Mbps from 792Mbps to 1.29Gbps, while Switzerland and South Korea also improved speeds. The UAE is fifth after increasing its maximum from 665Mbps to 961Mbps. All are using mid-range frequencies between 3.4 and 3.8GHz.

Opensignal, which records ‘real life’ readings from user smartphones, first tested maximum 5G speeds back in July. It assessed networks in eight countries – including the UK – and has expanded this to 12 for its most recent report.

Finland with 933Mbps, and Kuwait with 890Mbps now have faster 5G speeds than Italy, while Germany’s 740Mbps and Romania’s 712Mbps are superior than Spain and the UK. Indeed, Spain increased its number by 64Mbps to 666Mbps – overtaking the UK in the process.

The UK’s modest increase from 569Mbps to 599Mbps means it was last overall.

However 5G deployment is still at an early stage. Operators are at the start of their technological roadmap and coverage is still limited. Network upgrades will see maximum speeds increase over time, especially when Stand Alone 5G is commercially available.

“It’s still very early days for 5G, and coverage is still limited. There are only a handful of 5G smartphone models available. And, the version of 5G operators have deployed is the very first version of 5G which still relies on a smartphone connecting simultaneously to a 4G signal — non-standalone mode. All of this will change and improve with the upcoming second version of the 5G standard.”

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.