The term 5G confuses many people. According to Bill Nye, a.k.a. the Science Guy, that's because it's so brand new.
We hear a lot about what this fifth-generation wireless technology may become, but not what it actually is.
"What your 5G can do depends a lot on what signal your 5G runs on," Nye explains in the video below touting T-Mobile. "In fact, there are three categories of signal bands."
Those are high-band, mid-band, and low-band. The latter can penetrate walls, which means better coverage in buildings and basements, Nye says.
Mid-band works around the city, but not in the country. High-band is stunningly fast, but can be spotty and runs into trouble indoors.
Below in this longer video, the Verge offers a more detailed look at other carriers.
This technology has its detractors. Writing in Scientific American last year, Joel Moskowitz noted that more than 240 scientists signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, which raises serious concerns about nonionizing radiation.
Moskowitz is director of the Center for Family and Community Health in the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.
"The latest cellular technology, 5G, will employ millimeter waves for the first time in addition to microwaves that have been in use for older cellular technologies, 2G through 4G," Moskowitz wrote. "Given limited reach, 5G will require cell antennas every 100 to 200 meters, exposing many people to millimeter wave radiation. 5G also employs new technologies (e.g., active antennas capable of beam-forming; phased arrays; massive multiple inputs and outputs, known as massive MIMO) which pose unique challenges for measuring exposures."
With all of that in mind, a company that tests the performance of mobile networks recently analyzed users' real-world 5G experiences in a dozen countries.
Opensignal came up with a term: Download Speed Experience - 5G Users.
That accounted for the users' average 5G and 4G download speeds on various mobile operators. In addition, this measure took into account time spent connected to each generation of wireless technology.
And the winner across 12 of the world's leading 5G markets? None other than Saudi Arabia at 144.5 megabits per second (Mbps).
Canada ranked second with 90.4 Mbps
"Strikingly, 5G Users in the country with the highest adoption of 5G to date, South Korea, rank just third," wrote Ian Fogg, who leads Opensignal's analysis team.
The worst-ranking country was the U.K. at 32.6 Mbps.
However, when only examining 5G speeds rather than both 5G and 4G, South Korea leapfrogged into second place at 312.7 Mbps.
Saudi Arabia remained in first place at 414.2 Mbps. And Canada fell back to fifth spot at 178.1 Mbps, trailing Australia (215.7 Mbps) and Taiwan (210.2 Mbps).
Ranking last this time wasn't the U.K.; it was the United States, at 50.9 Mbps.
"The modest 5G Download Speeds in the U.S. are due to a combination of the limited amount of new mid-band 5G spectrum that is available and the popularity of low-band spectrum – T-Mobile’s 600MHz and AT&T’s 850MHz – which offer excellent availability and reach but lower average speeds than the 3.5GHz mid-band spectrum used as the main 5G band in every country outside of the U.S.," Fogg wrote.
"However, Verizon’s mmWave-based 5G service offers very considerably faster average 5G Download Speeds of 494. 7 Mbps in our recent U.S. report," he continued, "which is faster than the average 5G download speeds Opensignal has seen on any operator, or in any country to date including Saudi Arabia."
Of course, anyone who watched the two videos above would have already reached that conclusion. But hey, who has the time to watch videos embedded on websites these days?