In context: Last week the press ridiculed Verison for tweeting that users should turn off 5G to conserve battery life. Many found it strange that it should even suggest this considering its promotional push for its 5G network. Personally, I found it sensible, but what do I know.
As it turns out, Verizon’s advice to disable 5G was more warranted than anyone would have imagined. This week PCMag conducted some tests comparing Verizon’s 4G and 5G networks and found its 4G to be faster—a lot faster.
Granted, this is not your father’s 4G. PCMag was looking specifically at the new CBRS-enabled 4G, which Verizon just started rolling out. The CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) spectrum’s frequencies are close to the C-band, which Verizon plans to have implemented in its 5G network in 2022. It purchased licensing in this spectrum last year for $3.4 billion. Verizon spent a portion of that ($1.4 billion) on the CBRS range.
The reach of CBRS 4G is limited right now, but PCMag found four spots around New York. In speed tests, CBRS 4G was hitting up to 815Mbps. In the same location, Verizon’s “nationwide” DSS 5G (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) topped out at 358Mbps. Of course, DSS 5G is significantly slower than ultra-wideband (UWB) 5G, which can clock up to 3.4Gbps. However, UWB 5G is hampered by its limited range of about 800 feet. Conversely, CBRS signals reach up to half a mile.
So as far as conserving battery by turning off 5G, Verizon was not out in left field. Unless you live, work, or otherwise spend much time in an area with UWB 5G, you might be better off turning it off if the choice is between 4G or DSS 5G.