A Comparison Study of Cellular Deployments in Chicago and Miami Using Apps on Smartphones

by   Muhammad Iqbal Rochman, et al.

Cellular operators have begun deploying 5G New Radio (NR) in all available bands: low (< 1 GHz), mid (1 - 6 GHz), and high (> 24 GHz) to exploit the different capabilities of each. At the same time, traditional 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) deployments are being enhanced with the addition of bands in the unlicensed 5 GHz (using License Assisted Access, or LAA) and the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) resulting in throughput performance comparable to 5G in mid-band. We present a detailed study comparing 4G and 5G deployments, in all bands in Chicago, and focused mmWave measurements and analysis in Miami. Our methodology, based on commercial and custom apps, is scalable for crowdsourcing measurements on a large scale and provides detailed data (throughput, latency, signal strength, etc.) on actual deployments. Our main conclusions based on the measurements are (i) optimized 4G networks in mid-band are comparable in both throughput and latency to current deployments of 5G (both standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA)) and (ii) mmWave 5G, even in NSA mode, can deliver multi-Gbps throughput reliably if the installation is dense enough, but performance is still brittle due to the propagation limitations imposed by distance and body loss. Thus, while 5G demonstrates significant early promise, further work needs to be done to ensure that the stated goals of 5G are met.


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