Consumers report mixed results with 5G’s rollout

Photo (c) Namthip Muanthongthae - Getty Images

The FAA is still looking at how the technology could affect aviation

There have been a few bumps in the road as telecom companies roll out 5G service, but many industry experts say that’s to be expected with the deployment of what is essentially a new technology.

Earlier this year, there was a delay in turning on 5G service in areas adjacent to airports after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) raised concerns about possible interference with navigation systems. 

On Wednesday, the FAA warned that 5G wireless service could interfere with radio altimeters in Boeing 737s. That said, the agency said it does not see a safety issue for planes operating in areas where the 5G environment has been rendered safe for aviation.

What consumers say

An analysis of ConsumerAffairs reviews suggests that consumers have also experienced mixed results in the early days of 5G. Douglas, of Kingsport, Tenn., told us he has had good results so far with Cricket Wireless's unlimited 5G plan.

“I have used the service for over 6-months now and continually exceed the 22GB usage threshold,” Douglas wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “I have never been ‘throttled’ or slowed-down and get consistent LTE download speeds of 100-200Mbps and am able to stream full HD video. I am still in a 4G market as of writing this review but have noticed my phone switching between 4G/5G for the last few weeks and expect that 5G will be deployed soon.”

Jackie, of Oxford, Conn., reports satisfactory results from another small player, PureTalk. Even in a rural area, she says she’s receiving 5G service.

“I live off the beaten path and have always had some issues with cell service but that is a thing of the past with PureTalk,” Jackie told us. “I now have 5G coverage where I used to have 0 bars."

But Aja, of Memphis, Tenn., reports that she has 5G connectivity issues on T-Mobile, an issue she thinks might be related to her carrier.

“Didn't have service in multiple places (where) my AT&T worked just fine,” Aja wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “Additionally even when I had full bars on 5G, half the time content wouldn't load."

More 5G devices coming

The major wireless companies have recently stepped up the pace of their 5G rollouts, and equipment manufacturers have responded with more 5G devices. A study from ABI Research projects the launch of more always-on 5G portable device models in 2022 and predicts sales could top 12 million by the end of this year.

At the same time, major carriers are beginning to turn off their 3G networks since they need to redeploy the spectrum to 5G users. That raised concerns this week that many security and health monitor devices could go dark since they use the older, slower wireless frequencies.

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