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Report: T-Mobile still leading in 4G speeds, Sprint making progress in availability

T-Mobile and Verizon are top dogs when it comes to 4G speed and coverage. But Sprint has been making some progress.

Published onMarch 15, 2018

The T-Mobile logo.
  • According to OpenSignal, T-Mobile is in the lead when it comes to average LTE speeds across the U.S., with Verizon in a very close second.
  • For LTE availability, T-Mobile and Verizon are neck-and-neck, with Verizon slightly ahead. Sprint is making headway here, jumping up ten percentage points.
  • Keep in mind that OpenSignal gets very different results from rival RootMetrics, so results need to be scrutinized.

Back in January, we reported on OpenSignal’s latest release of telecommunications metrics. In that report, T-Mobile had the fastest 4G LTE speeds with Verizon right behind it. This new report shows similar results, although the two companies are a little more neck-and-neck than two months ago.

The United States map above gives you a quick summary of the 4G LTE kings of each of the five areas of the nation. As you can see, only two of the four major U.S. carriers show up on the map at all; Sprint and AT&T didn’t make the cut in any category.

For LTE speeds, T-Mobile topped in four out of five areas of the country, with only the West dominated by Verizon. However, even in the area where Verizon beat T-Mobile, it was by a hair: T-Mobile had an average of 17.58 Mbps down while Verizon had an average of 18.02 Mbps down. That’s a win for Verizon, clearly, but hardly enough to gloat about.

Meanwhile, AT&T came in a distant third for average speed in all five areas of the country, with Sprint handily getting fourth place. But Sprint and AT&T were neck-and-neck in both the Midwest and the West, so AT&T shouldn’t rest on its laurels.

In the category of LTE availability, it once again comes down to T-Mobile and Verizon in the top group. However, this time its Verizon that takes the lead in three out of the five areas: the Midwest, the Southeast, and the West. Even in the Northeast and Southwest, where T-Mobile claimed victory for average LTE availability, it was only by a fraction of a percentage point.

Still, it is remarkable that T-Mobile can hold its own against Verizon in both of these categories, as Verizon is without a doubt the largest carrier in the U.S., and, up until only a few years ago, T-Mobile was dead last.

There was also a notable bright spot here for Sprint: the nation’s current fourth-largest carrier was able to increase its 4G availability score by close to 10 percentage points in all five regions. The company is still in last place across the nation when it comes to average LTE availability, but that’s some serious progress.

It’s worth noting that OpenSignal gets its data from volunteers who install its metrics app on their devices. This is in contrast to rival RootMetrics, which privately collects data across the nation using paid researchers. RootMetrics consistently shows Verizon the leader of almost every category across most U.S. states, so it’s worth keeping that in mind when you examine OpenSignal’s data.

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