Heading into 2019, 5G performance was largely theoretical: Standards-compliant 5G networks and smartphones were still nascent if not months away, so carriers focused more on building and testing their networks than guaranteeing performance. But over the past year, carriers across the world have rolled out multiple 5G networks and devices, using a combination of lab tests and real-world user results to sharpen their initially soft marketing claims.

As we prepare to kick off 2020, 5G performance is concrete — or as close to concrete as we can get with a technology that will continue to improve for years after its initial release. Inspired by T-Mobile, multiple carriers have embraced a multi-tier 5G strategy that uses three types of radio signals to deliver cellular service to 5G devices: low, mid, and high band frequencies. Each tier has different characteristics.

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