Mobile Network Is America's Fastest

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OpenSignal previously found Verizon and AT&T's 4G speeds started falling since last February after the two largest mobile service providers in the country revived their wireless plans to address T-Mobile's decision to do the same. That's a more substantial 16% improvement from last fall's 14.91Mbps, but still behind T-Mobile's average speed.

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.

These tests showed that T-Mobile finishing with the fastest average 4G LTE download speed of 19.42Mbps. In comparison, Verizon's average speed has increased to 17.77Mbps. T-Mobile either won outright or tied for our 4G speed award in 24 of the 33 markets in our analysis, while Verizon won or tied for the award in 23 markets. T-Mobile had already almost caught up with Verizon in terms of 4G download speeds (16.65 Mbps and 16.89 Mbps, respectively) by last winter, but then took a commanding lead by August and maintained it through 2017. With an LTE network ping time of 58.3 milliseconds, AT&T has (at least for the moment) established itself as the most responsive USA network. Both Sprint and Verizon's networks were found to be much slower to respond, taking over 69ms to do so on average.

Although the larger carriers largely lagged T-Mobile, the OpenSignal analysis also noted that Verizon and AT&T halted declines in 4G speed previous year after new unlimited data plans put increased pressure on network capacity. Rootmetrics, which relies on independent drive-testing to measure networks, instead of crowdsourced data, has long had Verizon in first place, with T-Mobile languishing at the back of the pack.

Testing Firm: T-Mobile Is the 'Operator to Beat'
Report: T-Mobile still has fastest 4G LTE speeds, while Verizon, AT&T slowly recover

Per the report: "T-Mobile has clearly taken advantage of Verizon's 4G speed challenges".

The report also noted that last-place Sprint made significant gains in both LTE speed and availability in the latest analysis. Sprint's average 4G speeds have risen a remarkable 33% over the past year to 12 Mbps in the 4th quarter. AT&T and Sprint are still stuck below the 90 percent barrier, but are also surprisingly close on 87 and 85.6 percent coverage, respectively. Both speeds and coverage are up notably compared with a year ago, and Sprint appears to be a viable rival to AT&T. OpenSignal had different results between April 1 to June 30, 2017 and crowned T-Mobile as the download speed king.

According to OpenSignal, while considering the deployment of 5G, competition for the mobile networks is heating up and 2018 will be pretty unpredictable. This was due to the "deluge of data demand on their networks", said OpenSignal. The agency felt that Big Red subscribers might not be used to having unlimited data, and many could have had their data speed throttled for going over Verizon's 22GB monthly data cap for unlimited subscribers. 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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