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Ooma’s Guide to 5G Coverage

By Husain Sumra|Thursday September 3, 2020

There is a lot of buzz about 5G technology. But as with most emerging technologies, it’s not always easy to wade through the details to understand the benefits for you and your business. 

Moreover, there’s currently another level of complexity because of access. The infrastructure rollout means different providers have deployed 5G in different locations, and not all places in the country have access.  

In this guide to 5G coverage, we’ll break down exactly what 5G communication technology is, how it compares to existing cellular communications, and which 5G providers are leading the way. We’ll also look into the future to see how 5G could change business communication.

5G coverage and projections

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What is 5G?

5G is the next generation of wireless technology. It’s the updated version of the current 4G LTE networks that keep smartphones connected to the internet when we’re outside the range of Wi-Fi

To access a 5G connection, you need to use a 5G-compatible device. A selection of 5G devices is already on the market with more on the way.

How do the 5G bands compare?

One of the most important things to know about 5G is that the single term includes three different types of 5G technology — high-band, medium-band and low-band. 

Each category refers to a specific range of radio waves used for transmission, and there’s a trade-off between speeds and distance. 

High-band 5G is by far the fastest category. However, to access the signal you need to be close to the cell site. It’s ideal for dense, urban environments because the typical radius around a cell tower is only about one mile. 

High-band signals are also affected by walls, buildings and other physical barriers, and there are reports that you need a direct line of sight to the cell tower in order to access these high speeds. This could create a real-world problem like losing your 5G connection when turning a street corner. 

Mid-band 5G has a wider radius than high-band, expanding access to several miles from a cell tower. It’s still fast, but it can’t support the faster speeds of high-band. Brookings Institute has called this the “Goldilocks spectrum” because it balances the dual needs for fast connections and wide range. 

Low-band 5G is the slowest of all the 5G categories, but it offers wide coverage that’s similar to 4G access. One antenna can cover up to hundreds of square miles. 

How fast is 5G?

The key benefit of 5G is the potential speeds it can achieve. With a high-band 5G connection, download speeds can be 1-3 Gbps (gigabits per second).

That means with 5G, you could download a two-hour movie within 10 seconds. That’s lightning-fast compared to the seven minutes it would take with a 4G connection. 

To fully understand how fast it is, let’s look at how the download speeds of 5G compared to other types of internet connections. 

Download Speed Comparison

  • 3G: Up to 3.1 Mbps
  • DSL: 5-35 Mbps
  • 4G LTE: 32-53 Mbps
  • Low-band 5G: 30-250 Mbps
  • Cable: 25-400 Mbps
  • Mid-band 5G: 100-900 Mbps
  • Fiber: 250-1,000 Mbps
  • High-band 5G: 1-3 Gbps

Keep in mind that this comparison includes both wired and wireless connections. The top speeds of 5G wireless could change our perceptions of connectivity and mobility. For example, mid-band 5G could mean that you could get faster internet with your phone than you can get with a cable modem. 

Which 5G provider has the biggest reach?

Ericsson’s June 2018 Mobility Report predicted that before the end of 2023, one billion people will have 5G subscriptions, and 5G will handle about 20 percent of mobile data traffic.

The deployment of 5G means implementing a physical infrastructure. Different mobile providers have taken different strategies with this and have been able to achieve different levels of customer access. 

T-Mobile has the biggest reach so far and is able to deliver 5G to the largest number of customers. As of December 2019, the company had 5G service that reached 200 million people, and by June 2020, access grew to all 50 states. The company’s coverage map shows that there is widespread coverage across the country. Read more about rural internet coverage.

AT&T is the second-largest, and as of June 2020, the company had 5G service that covers 160 million people.

Verizon is next. As of May 2020, it has faster millimeter-wave 5G in select streets of 35 cities, plus some commercial 5G deployments at NFL stadiums.

Keep in mind that fast speeds of high-band 5G have the smallest radius. This means that it will take much more infrastructure to deploy a high-band 5G network than to deploy a low-band one.  

What’s next for 5G rollout?

Providers are rapidly building out their 5G mobile networks. Here’s what we know about each provider’s plans.

AT&T plans to have nationwide 5G access before the end of 2020.

T-Mobile plans to quickly add mid-band 5G to 30,000 towers in major metropolitan areas.

Verizon plans to double the number of cities with 5G service by the end of 2020 while also expanding coverage within the cities that already have 5G.

How will 5G change business communications?

5G has been billed as next-generation communications technology. It will be a significant leap forward for connectivity. Just as technologies like smartphones or personal computers changed how we connect, 5G infrastructure could alter the future of business. 

The impact of 5G is not only about being able to perform our current internet tasks faster. It’s also building the capacity that can support new types of technology.

For example, the fast speeds of 5G could support high-bandwidth technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality. This could give businesses the tools for more immersive communication and expand virtual access to people and places. 

Meetings can go beyond a video conference to an immersive VR experience. Managers could remotely tour manufacturing plants or work sites. Sales teams could connect virtually with clients when selling real estate or new cars.

Another change is the increased capacity for IoT devices. With more available bandwidth, additional devices can go online, creating smarter workplaces, smart buildings and smart cities. 

This real-time human-object communication could lead to the capacity for more personalization. For example, a conference room could automatically calibrate the thermostat based on the optimal temperature for meeting attendees. Increased IoT could also expand device-to-device communication that could improve manufacturing plants and self-driving cars. 

Also, 5G connectivity could be so fast and effective that it could replace traditional broadband services. By switching to fixed wireless access points, homes and businesses could be less susceptible to problems like down lines. 

This is something that we already know is important to businesses because we’ve seen a demand for the Ooma Connect, which provides backup LTE service so that businesses can stay connected when lines are down. 

Is your business ready for what’s next? Find out how Ooma small business VoIP can help you stay connected.

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Loyal customers are critical to business success because they tend to be a source of repeat business. According to The Loyalty Report 2018, “Loyalty programs that establish positive emotional connections with Members see 27% more of their Membership increasing their spend with the Brand.” This research tells us that building customer loyalty can lead to more spending.

Loyalty programs vs. improving customer experience: Designing your approach

There are different approaches to building customer loyalty. Some companies use loyalty program cards, bonus offers and other incentives. You might offer access to special deals like CVS or take 5% off the purchase price like Target. You might even give some or part of your product away for free, like airlines that provide free flights through their loyalty programs. What if your small business isn’t interested or able to offer these kinds of loyalty programs?

There is another way to encourage loyal customers to keep giving you repeat business. Gather customer feedback through a phone survey and then use that data to improve the customer experience. When customers see that the business owner has acted on their feedback, they may feel inspired to return to that business. That means more revenue for the bottom line. You just need a fast and straightforward way to conduct a customer satisfaction survey. That’s where a focused business phone survey comes in.

Why increasing customer loyalty with a phone survey is a good choice.

Organizing a customer satisfaction survey by phone offers notable advantages compared to other methods. While a net promoter survey can give you interesting data, there is no conversational element involved. Further, using the net promoter survey approach effectively requires a certain degree of specialized training in the net promoter methodology.

You might also consider online customer surveys. Surveying your email list or website is worth attempting. Depending on the size of your email list or website traffic, you might be able to get a large number of survey responses. The challenge with online customer surveys is that you will have to spend a lot of time reviewing the data to find insights. There is no way to ask a customer to clarify their survey responses or provide an example.

Conducting a customer satisfaction survey by phone gives you the best of both worlds. You can ask questions and get survey responses. However, you also have the opportunity to provide the human touch. For instance, you may hear a customer complain about a lost or delayed order. When you hear about a problem during a phone survey, you can gather all the necessary details to make the situation right with the customer.

How to increase customer loyalty with a phone survey step by step.

The following steps give you a starting point to create a simple customer satisfaction survey. Over the course of a month, you could gather a significant amount of insights to improve your customer service by calling five to 10 customers per day.

  1. Define your customer satisfaction survey goals.

Before calling a single customer, reflect on your business goals. Are you seeking to improve your profit margins? In that case, you may want to focus your survey on the customers that spend the most on your business. Finding ways to make high-spending customers content may give you an excellent return. Alternatively, you may decide to focus your survey project on whether your local SEO has attracted customers. 

  1. Write your customer satisfaction survey questions.

Now that you have clarity on your goals, it is time to write your questions. According to Survey Monkey, a survey software company, it is best to focus your survey on closed-ended questions. An example of a closed-ended question would be: “How many times have you bought from our business in the past 12 months?” However, this kind of question may not give you the ideas you need to improve the customer experience.

At the end of the survey, consider asking one or two open-ended questions to understand better what your customers like. Encourage customers to think creatively with a question like this: “If you could change anything in our business, what would you improve?”

Tip: Reduce your need for note-taking by using call recording, but make sure that you ask for permission first.

  1. Test the survey with a small group of customers.

With your list of customer satisfaction questions, make a few test phone calls to customers. The purpose of the test is to discover if any of the questions are unclear. If you receive confusing answers, revise the question to make them clearer.

  1. Train employees on how to gather survey responses.

Consider running a few training phone calls for your employees. Ask them to call you or other employees in a role-playing scenario. Making a few practice calls will help your employees become more familiar with the questions. Besides, practice phone surveys will help employees learn how to record survey responses accurately. Once the training is complete, give your staff a list of customers to call and let them get started.

  1. Review the survey responses for insights and follow up with customers.

After all of the survey responses are in, schedule time to review the results. In particular, look for patterns in the results. If a large number of people gave low scores to your website, you may need to make improvements. Also, review the survey responses received in the open-ended questions. You might be pleasantly surprised at what customers tell you.

  1. Follow up with customers after the survey when needed.

A phone survey lets you gather rich insights because you can quickly ask follow-up questions. However, merely gathering survey responses may not impress your customers very much. Instead, offer to refer problems to the business owner for improvement or offer to enter the respondent in a drawing for a gift card. That is a much more compelling improvement! By addressing problems and issues when they arise, you stand a much better chance of winning additional loyal customers.