Test and Measurement: Ookla breaks down a shifting carrier market

Midband spectrum has helped T-Mo with a 5G lead, but cellular service and device costs may be more important to growth than pending C-Band deployments, Ookla says in a new blog post.

Ookla’s Mark Giles, lead industry analyst at Ookla, wrote that by Ookla’s reckoning, T-Mobile US still outperforms Verizon in terms of overall 5G network speeds. T-Mobile US has been able to get a jump on midband 5G deployments because of the 2.5 GHz spectrum that it acquired with Sprint, alongside the 600 MHz spectrum that it won at auction and has also been deployed as a base layer for 5G coverage.

Additional deployment of C-Band spectrum by Verizon and to a lesser extent, AT&T, may improve their network performance in the coming quarters, but their customer additions are likely to be more heavily influenced by cost, due to the impact of inflation on their customers.

“As economic headwinds build in the US, with inflation surging to a 40-year high, we expect the dynamics of the U.S. wireless market to shift,” wrote Giles.

T-Mobile US has seen strong customer growth this year, but so has AT&T—which has neither 2.5 GHz nor extensive first-tranche C-Band spectrum to deploy, and has trailed both of the other carriers in some overall network performance metrics like 5G speed. But “Network performance isn’t the only factor driving postpaid net phone additions,” Giles wrote, noting AT&T’s is also pricing aggressively and even though its peak 5G performance may be lagging, it still particularly strong LTE performance as well as greater 5G availability than Verizon.

But amid rising wage costs, AT&T CEO John Stankey has raised at least the possibility of price increases. If the carrier goes forward with that, Giles wrote, Verizon could benefit. Meanwhile, US Cellular could make inroads and Dish Network is finally getting its 5G ducks in a row to ramp up — so competition is on the upswing. “These changes could well begin to shift the dynamic in terms of postpaid net phone additions between AT&T and Verizon and other regional carriers, if they can continue to broaden the coverage of their 5G networks and build on their C-band fuelled speed advantage,” he concluded.

Read more here.

In other test news:

-Rohde & Schwarz touted its R&S Ardronis drone detection solution, among others, at this week’s Frankfurt conference for police and government security organizations. The Ardronis solutions, paired with an R&S direction-finding antenna, can detect drone activity in a spectrum range from 20 MHz to 6 GHz. Rohde said that it has sold the system to more than 100 customers.

The Ardronis drone-detecting system from Rohde & Schwarz. Image: R&S.

The test company noted that “Although [radio-controlled] drones systematically change their radio frequency (frequency hopping to avoid interception), R&S Ardronia can separate a selected RC drone signal from others with a reliable profile-based auto-separation algorithm that detects and locates the signal.”

Anritsu and Tech Mahindra have unveiled a collaborative IoT lab at Tech Mahindra’s campus in Fremont, California. Full story here.

Keysight Technologies continues its work to support future 6G development, with its test solutions chosen by Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University to support research and development of terahertz systems. Read more on that here.

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