New Report Compares Performance of T-Mobile 5G NR Standalone & Non-Standalone Networks

Research and Markets have published a new report titled "5G: The Greatest Show on Earth! Vol 13: Needle in a Haystack". This report focuses on the T-Mobile Band n71 5G NR Standalone (SA) network and how it compares with the operator's 5G NR Non-Standalone (NSA) network. They tested in the Dallas area, as well as rural areas in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Highlights of the Report include the following:

This study was in collaboration with Accuver Americas, Rohde & Schwarz, and Spirent Communications who provided the publisher with their respective test equipment and platforms, which they identify in the report. The publisher did all the testing and analysis of the data and they are solely responsible for the commentary in the report.

Methodology: Most of the testing was with two smartphones operating in parallel. One smartphone (S20 Ultra) supported SA and the other smartphone (McLaren OnePlus or Note 10 Plus) only supported NSA. In some tests, they forced the S20 Ultra to remain in SA mode even though NSA was available. They logged chipset diagnostic messages and captured scanner data to independently determine LTE and 5G NR RF characteristics.

Improved Coverage and Performance: Although it was not easy to find locations where the smartphone used [needed] SA, in those regions, the publisher observed 5G NR coverage which didn't exist with the NSA-capable smartphone. They also documented meaningful increases in end-user data speeds, even in cases when the NSA smartphone was using both LTE and 5G NR.

Latency Results were Mixed: The publisher measured handover times, acquisition times, RTT and web page load times. The results were mixed, at best.

Related Challenges: PDCP packet losses, especially with poor LTE coverage remain a big problem that is not specific to any operator or vendor. Furthermore, they continue to observe smartphones camping on a low-band LTE frequency (i.e., Band 12) instead of leveraging 5G NR in another low-band frequency. The publisher is very familiar with the airplane mode feature which can trigger a different response and the desired outcome.

Sidebar Study: Because they could, the publisher drove across much of Wisconsin while testing the top three operator networks. AT&T had the fastest network (by far) while the T-Mobile network had the greatest use of 5G NR. They also captured scanner data to look at operator low-/mid-band LTE coverage and 5G NR coverage.

Click here to view the report "5G: The Greatest Show on Earth! Vol 13: Needle in a Haystack".