Mobile still has fastest 4G LTE speeds, while Verizon, AT&T slowly recover

Posted January 23, 2018

After sweeping OpenSignal's State of Mobile Networks honors for the first half of 2017, T-Mobile followed up its impressive performance with another near sweep, as it came away on top in every category but one - AT&T managed to top T-Mobile with the most responsive 4G connections.

For this report, OpenSignal analyzed 5.9 billion measurements collected from 237,213 mobile devices between October 1 and December 30 of 2017. In that timeframe, the report saw data from 237,213 test devices, and there were more than 5 billion total measurements in an effort to get the best possible results and catalog them.

As for numbers, T-Mobile offers the fastest typical 4G speeds at 19.2 Mbps, Verizon at 17.8, AT&T on 13.3, and Spring not far behind on 12 Mbps. Fortunately there's data for this too, but it's worth noting that OpenSignal's availability data is collected by time spent connected to a 4G network rather than the geographical coverage percentage that carriers will often talk about. T-Mobile had the fastest 4G download speed, fastest 3G download speed, fastest overall download speed, fastest 3G latency, and best 4G availability.

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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.

The "uncarrier" blew past Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint in five out of six major metric tests, besting the competition on 4G download speed, 3G download speed, overall download speed, 3G latency, and 4G availability. You can check the whole thing out right here.

The report added that LTE availability increased on the networks of all four top carriers and that 2018 could prove to be even more unpredictable than 2017 - particularly if Verizon takes steps to bolster its capacity on the road to 5G networks. The stakes couldn't be higher in 2018. In case you were wondering, Open Signal uses data generated by users of its "4G WiFi Maps & Speed Test. Find Signal & Data Now" app available from the Google Play Store. All tests were done where coverage was available for each carrier. Both networks have returned to their pre-unlimited plan speeds as of the end of 2017.

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It's important to highlight Sprint's big gains across the board, with the "Now Network" all of a sudden looking like a strong candidate for speed and availability podiums going forward, while Verizon and AT&T deserve a bit of praise as well for recovering what they lost in the immediate wake of their unlimited plan rollouts. As a result, T-Mobile beat both larger brands by a slightly smaller margin than Q2 of 2017 and Q3 of 2017. AT&T scores 87.07 percent and Sprint scored 85.66 percent. A year ago no carrier reached that level. 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 situation wasn't much different for 4G LTE speed availability either.

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