Are you on the fastest LTE network in the U.S.?

by: Kris CarlonFebruary 2, 2016

LG Optimus G Pro aa 5 4g lte 1600

If data is king, data speeds are the Galactic Emperor. Following the analogy, weak or patchy network connections are the thermal exhaust port through which an upstart young Rebel pilot could successfully fire two proton torpedoes, leading to a chain reaction that could blow up the entire U.S….carrier…system. OK, I may have gotten a little carried away there, but suffice to say LTE speeds are critical. A new report has revealed the fastest LTE network in the U.S.: are you on it?

OpenSignal has posted its most recent State of Mobile Networks: USA report, covering Q4, 2015, and the results are a little mixed. On the positive side, U.S. LTE networks get an A grade for coverage, ranking among the most extensive in the world. But when the report turns to the speed of those networks, things take a turn for the worse, with OpenSignal claiming the “U.S. finds itself falling short”.

LG Optimus G Pro aa 5 4g lte 1600See also: What is LTE? Everything you need to know29

The fastest LTE network in the U.S. is…

So which carrier has the fastest LTE network? T-Mobile, by a hair’s breadth, defeating Verizon at 4G download speeds by less than a third of a MB/sec. T-Mobile scored download speeds of 12.26 MB/sec compared to Verizon’s 11.98 MB/sec. When we switch to 3G download speeds, T-Mobile is way ahead, with 3.48 MB/sec compared to Verizon’s paltry 0.66 MB/sec (AT&T took second spot with 2.22 MB/sec).

US_LTE_network_speeds OpenSignal

But Verizon still comes out on top in terms of coverage. Verizon has the best LTE coverage in the U.S., with Big Red customers assured of a 4G connection 86.73% of the time. In second place (but trending downwards from previous months) AT&T customers were guaranteed a solid connection 82.63% of the time, while T-Mobile was right behind at 81.23%.

Even the fastest 4G network speed in the U.S. – T-Mobile's 12.26 MB/sec – is below the global average.

While these figures may sound pretty good to you, the coverage percentage is the only number that’s worth getting excited about. The problem with U.S. carrier data speeds is that they average out at just 9.9 MB/sec, well and truly below the international average of 13.5 MB/sec. Even the fastest 4G network speed in the U.S. – T-Mobile’s 12.26 MB/sec – is below the global average.

OpenSignal_4g_speeds_regional_results Open Signal

OpenSignal takes this as an opportunity to call out American carriers, claiming the U.S. is “no longer pushing mobile technology boundaries like it used to”, putting the industry in the same league as Argentina, a country that only rolled out its first LTE network a year ago.

Are you happy with your LTE data speeds? Would you have picked T-Mobile as the fastest?

  • D’ohrk!

    I use Speedtest, which means that Open Signal’s report is limited to participation bias. On T-Mobile I just got 50 / 17 Mbps. Thanks to the history settings in Speedtest’s app, I can tell you that in the past 2 1/2 years, I’ve had a low of 16.6Mbps and a high of 75 Mbps. Anyone else?

    • Elapsed

      Mbps and MB/s are two different things

      • D’ohrk!

        Duh. Tell me something I don’t know…like your speed experience.

        • Dominick Wheeler

          72 mbps download with 34 upload and 21ms ping. Averages are usually between 20 and 35, though (download)

  • AbbyZFresh

    So the article is nothing but T-Mobile fanboyism.

    • Dominick Wheeler

      How are facts, numbers and data “fanboyism”? If they had just stated “TMobile has the best network” with nothing to support it, you could say that, but it’s pretty silly to dispute scientific data.

    • Lost_Fan

      You must be stuck on Sprint.

  • tc

    I think article is confused with MB vs Mb

  • The Doctor

    The article says T-Mobile is the winner with 12.25 MBps, but the graphic showing Regional Results data speeds has download speeds in Mbps.


    megabytes vs megabits

    Big difference Kris

    • guest

      Aren’t both MB/s and Mbps mega bytes per second?? o_O
      If not, which is what?


        MB = megabytes
        Mb = megabits

        8 megabits = 1 megabyte

  • smokebomb

    I’ve never seen anything lower than 40 mbps on T-Mobile.

  • PoBD

    AT&T is the best by miles, or mbps, in our area.

  • Emmet

    T-Mobile sucks in my area so I have to either go with ATT or Verizon as sprint is also not perfect either.

  • balcobomber25

    I could care less about the speeds, I pay $30 a month for unlimited data with Tmobile, a comparable plan on Verizon costs over $100. I live in the city so coverage is good no matter who you use.

  • Jason

    I tried T-Mobile but coverage wasn’t so good. Constantly switching between hspa and 4g and killing my battery in the process. I went over to cricket wireless(essentially at&t) and I’m getting a constant 7-8mbps(max speed for cricket) and that’s good enough for me. Coverage is a lot better than tmo too

    • Hiran

      How is Verizon in your area?

      • Jason

        Verizon has better coverage than cricket but the price was about $100 more for almost the same speeds so I took the cheaper $35/month cricket route. So far I’m satisfied with the service

  • Carlos

    This is here un Miami

  • Lost_Fan

    Speed doesn’t really matter if you are on a capped plan. It just means you will get to your cap faster. That’s why I’m with T-mobile and have unlimited data (2 phones for $100/month). Although they will prioritize you if you go over 22 gigs.

  • Jeff Hollis

    And in Japan, I was getting over 150mbps on a hotspot that cost me $100 for a month with no contract. Cell plans are even cheaper. How about you report on how shitty ALL of these wireless carriers are in comparison to those in other countries.

  • LastKings31

    This is my speed on T-Mobile in Los Angeles

  • Sam Assad

    These are interesting results from a big picture perspective. But to a consumer, you really want to know data speeds where you live and work. Places where you actually use your phone most often. I’m in Cleveland and have att. These results seem accurate to my region. I miss Verizon coverage and good speed but not the price. Value is balanced in multiple components.

  • Sam Assad

    The frustrating thing is the lack of progress put forth by providers to increase speeds. We have amazing hardware being caged up by old tech. 5g can’t come soon enough. They will just milk the game as far as they can.

  • Jumperone

    What’s this phone?

  • PlanetVaster

    Fuck yes, I’m on T-Mobile :)

  • Guillermo Osterrieth

    So i’m from Argentina and am getting around the same speed. The article seams to focus on speed just for the sake of it, in reality the question is, is it enough to do the things we do with mobile phones while not on WiFi? For me it’s kind of slow sometimes but not to the point where I would need faster speeds.

  • Steve

    I think that speed on cell phone network is only a selling point to a certain speed and I think that anything more than 10Mbps is just more than anybody really needs. Unless you have a unlimited plan. If your cap is 10GB/month does it really matter if you have 100Mbps speeds? It’s not like you can be streaming 1080p movies all day long. All faster speeds do at this point is load all the ads on websites faster cause loading the text that we usually go to websites to read doesn’t take much speed to load. That’s the way I look at it anyway

  • Милен Стефанов

    Fucking idiot, don’t even know differences between megabytes & megabits…

  • saksham

    in new delhi 4g has just launched so i get speeds upto 30 mbps !!

  • Wolfwood

    I have T-Mobile and live in San Antonio. I noticed as they started to expand coverage to reach farther outside the city my speeds within the city dropped a lot.

  • D. Zalewski

    I’m happy with my $20 unlimited tmobile data plan and average speeds of 25+ Mbps