Title: Understanding Operational 5G: A First Measurement Study on Its Coverage, Performance and Energy Consumption
5G, as a monumental shift in cellular communication technology, holds tremendous potential for spurring innovations across many vertical industries, with its promised multi-Gbps speed, sub-10 ms low latency, and massive connectivity. On the other hand, as 5G has been deployed for only a few months, it is unclear how well and whether 5G can eventually meet its prospects. In this paper, we demystify operational 5G networks through a first-of-its-kind crosslayer measurement study. Our measurement focuses on four major perspectives: (i) Physical layer signal quality, coverage and hand-off performance; (ii) End-to-end throughput and latency; (iii) Quality of experience of 5G’s niche applications (e.g., 4K/5.7K panoramic video telephony); (iv) Energy consumption on smartphones. The results reveal that the 5G link itself can approach Gbps throughput, but legacy TCP leads to surprisingly low capacity utilization (<32%), latency remains too high to support tactile applications and power consumption escalates to 2 − 3× over 4G. Our analysis suggests that the wireline paths, upper-layer protocols, computing and radio hardware architecture need to co-evolve with 5G to form an ecosystem, in order to fully unleash its potential.