Twin Ports Quietly Gets Huge Cell Phone Coverage Upgrade
In the last week or so, I started noticing something new on my smartphone that I hadn't seen while using it around the Twin Ports area before.
Roughly a week or so ago, the status indicator for my cell reception with my AT&T service added an extra symbol had an extra feature. I've had "5G" coverage on my phone for the last two years or so in both Duluth and Superior (and elsewhere across Minnesota and Wisconsin) after upgrading my phone, but a + symbol showed up sporadically around parts of Downtown Duluth lately.
Up until this point, the only other time I had seen "5G+" on my phone's status bar was while in certain parts of the Twin Cities area, where AT&T has their advanced 5G technology deployed. Could this advanced technology be making a debut in the Twin Ports area too?
Here's what to know:
What is AT&T's 5G+?
AT&T's website explains that they offer three flavors of 5G technology deployed across the country, working to expand the higher-end versions of the latest broadband tech to more areas.
The first kind is their regular 5G technology, indicated by a 5G indicator on your phone. This low-band technology covers a huge portion of the United States, including a vast majority of Minnesota and about 1/3 of Wisconsin. This is their "base" upgrade over the previous 4G-LTE technology they and other phone providers provided.
The next two kinds are both branded as "5G+". This might sound a little confusing to have two different things have the same name, but I'll explain a little.
The next tier of 5G for AT&T is their mid-band 5G+. which is a step up from their base 5G technology. This tier of 5G can be deployed over a larger area, like older mobile broadband technology, but it offers faster speed potential than regular 5G and older technologies.
The other kind of 5G+ is on the high end of the radio spectrum, only able to be deployed in smaller areas like airports and event venues. Currently, AT&T has this top-tier 5G+ is deployed at Alianz Field, US Bank Stadium, and Target Field in the Twin Cities and at American Family Field, Wisconsin Center, and Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin along with select locations in Knosha and Racine.
Where is AT&T's 5G+ available in the Twin Ports area?
While I can't find any formal announcement of the rollout of this technology, I've noticed the 5G+ indicator pop up on my phone sporadically while near the downtown area of Duluth, which tells me this is a relatively new addition to the area (or they're still rolling it out). This technology is usually rolled out first near population centers, so the fact I've noticed it in Downtown Duluth first isn't too much of a surprise.
A coverage map from AT&T shows, however, that this technology is (or should be) available around much of the Twin Ports area. Included (as noted in dark blue in the map below) is all of the I-35 corridor in Duluth, spanning from West Duluth all the way to patchy coverage as far as Lakeside. The coverage area expands up the hill toward the colleges and to near the mall area.
Also included in this 5G+ coverage area on the map is almost all of Superior, with pretty consistent coverage depicted almost everywhere north of North 28th Street.
How fast is AT&T's 5G+ in the Duluth Superior area?
I've only noticed it pop up on my phone a couple of times in the last week or so, which suggests to me that it is a pretty new addition to the Twin Ports area. Every time I've seen it pop up, I have made a point to do a quick speed test.
The top speed results I got were this morning (August 22), getting a peak download speed of 372 Mbps and a peak upload speed of 42.2 Mbps.
If you aren't familiar with those numbers, they're pretty impressive for mobile broadband. They are actually better than Spectrum's advertised base residential internet package of 300 Mbps download/10-20 Mbps upload speeds.
It is important to note that the speed tests I've run on the 5G+ have been slower (and will vary based on use and other factors). They've been as slow as 145 Mbps download/25 Mbps upload. That's still ample for most general uses for your cell phone.
The website highspeedinternet.com explains that this mid-tier 5G+ technology has 100-500 Mbps download speed capabilities, which puts my tests well within the window of what we could expect with this new iteration of 5G in the Twin Ports area.
The big thing to know about these technologies is to think of them as pipes. The Twin Ports area is getting a bigger pipe to carry more/faster data. That doesn't mean it will always be faster. A lot of other factors come into play, including how many people are using the network and how they're using it. This is true of all wired and wireless broadband providers. You'll always see the asterisk with a note about speeds "up to" a certain number. That's part of the reason why.
Is there anything I need to do to get these speeds?
If you have a compatible phone, no. It is something you can access as part of a current 5G phone plan with AT&T, as long as you have a device capable of talking to the faster network. Many newer phones (mine is 2 years old) are capable of this. If you have a compatible phone, you should just start seeing this pop up on your phone if you're in an area where this coverage is available.
How fast can 5G+ get?
In a speed test I took at US Bank Stadium of the top-tier, high-band 5G+, I recorded speeds as high as 1.019 Gbps (1,019 Mbps) on the download side and near 60 Mbps on the upload side. That's simply a wild amount of speed. It is, however, currently limited to the site-specific 5G+, and likely won't be something you'd just see in a random place in town anytime soon.
While we're talking about fast internet speeds, here's something that is the opposite of fast. The Minnesota Goodbye. Here's a breakdown of the stages of this notoriously long and awkward process.