February 17, 2018

Mobile gets the fastest 3G and 4G network title

23 January 2018, 02:05 | Denise Dawson

Latest OpenSignal State of the Mobile Networks report shows T-Mobile still on top, Verizon and AT&T recovering

Testing Firm: T-Mobile Is the 'Operator to Beat'

AT&T was the only network to win a category with the best 4G latency award.

The Uncarrier took the the top spot in five of the six categories OpenSignal measures. And it was all thanks to the kneecapping Verizon and AT&T gave themselves after re-introducing unlimited plans early previous year.

According to OpenSignal, T-Mobile ended the year with an average 4G download speed of 19.42 Mbps, while Verizon played catch-up at 17.77 Mbps.

Two megabits per second may not seem like much of a lead, but it could mean the difference between successfully downloading a video or not.

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A year ago, network testing firm OpenSignal saw an even battle between T-Mobile and Verizon over which carrier could claim the better-performing wireless network.

"Verizon's 4G speeds may have returned to pre-unlimited levels, but the recovery may have come too late", analysts wrote. Only in September did both operators manage to arrest the downward trend, which was most likely the result of 4G capacity upgrades on both networks. Market variation is still strong, with T-Mobile near the top in places like Baltimore, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia, but nearly entirely beaten in locations like San Francisco and LA. These included best download speed on 3G and 4G, along with overall download speed and availability throughout the United States. Its availability score rose almost 9 percentage points over the last twelve months, compared to 6 percentage points for T-Mobile and 5 percentage points for both Verizon and AT&T. Meanwhile, T-Mobile made itself the fastest and most responsive mobile network around and now received all awards of OpenSignal except for one - 4G latency as AT&T won this award.

This morning OpenSignal has published its annual report on the four major usa carriers. Perhaps surprisingly, perpetual underdog Sprint has managed to nearly catch up with AT&T, boosting its typical 3G and 4G speeds by 3.1 Mbps over the same period. All other categories were dominated by T-Mobile. Big Red has a history of making big network moves when under pressure. A year ago, no US operator had a 4G availability score above 90%. As a result, T-Mobile beat both larger brands by a slightly smaller margin than Q2 of 2017 and Q3 of 2017. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are in the race to roll out 5G networks toward the end of this year and T-Mobile will target a full rollout by 2020. The four of the big carriers have boosted their 4G availability scores by between 6 and 9 percent in a single year, with Sprint by fast leading the growth, followed by T-Mobile. The effects on Verizon's and AT&T's 4G services were immediate.

All the numbers in OpenSignal's tests originate from users of OpenSignal's (terribly named) "4G WiFi Maps & Speed Test. Find Signal & Data Now" app. We found Verizon and AT&T 4G speeds dropped steadily in our measurements from February to August as the increased data demand of unlimited plans taxed their LTE network capacity. The first 5G networks may still be years away, but the foundations of those 5G services will be built on the 4G infrastructure we use today.

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