Mobile Takes 5/6 OpenSignal's Network Awards For Jan. 2018

Joanna Estrada
January 22, 2018

Although anecdotally T-Mobile hasn't been known to have comparable availability to Verizon, for whatever reason it has beaten Big Red in OpenSignal's tests. Discounted phones, BOGO deals, frequent perks and hilariously weird marketing may have each played their small part in Magenta's continued recent progress, but at the end of the day, it's all about speed and reliability.

Last week, OpenSignal teased its upcoming "State of the Mobile Networks: USA" report by announcing that T-Mobile was still king of US wireless download speeds, but that Verizon and AT&T were on the comeback.

Although T-Mobile hasn't swept every category like it did a year ago, the only test that the company didn't win was 4G latency, and even there it only lost to AT&T by a minuscule 1.45 milliseconds.

In overall speeds, which take both 3G and 4G into account, T-Mobile was tops with an average download speed of 18.3 Mbps, followed by Verizon (16.5 Mbps), AT&T (11.9 Mbps) and Sprint (10.2 Mbps). Verizon's network speeds have returned to "pre-unlimited speed levels", according to OpenSignal, rising to an average of 17.8 Mbps.

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. Sprint's tremendous improvements over the last year-especially when it comes to 4G speed and availability-aren't to be ignored, though. AT&T's 4G LTE speeds also rebounded, hitting 13.3Mbps for the quarter. T-Mobile not only increased speeds throughout the year, they expanded their LTE footprint too. Each year OpenSignal issues a report that looks at all the mobile carriers in the US and compares the speed and performance offered to help consumers look through all the hype and marketing and see which carrier really is the fastest. However, OpenSignal says that Verizon was able to recoup their losses. T-Mobile has been doing both, adding thousands of smaller cell sites while putting online new airwave licenses it won past year in the 600 MHz band. While the overall state of wireless speeds in the U.S. T-Mobile beat the other carriers on the 3G latency test, but not 4G. 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.

But if you do want silky smooth video calls, or online game connections, or more consistent music and video-streaming, maybe stay away from Verizon (69.99 ms) and Sprint (69.59 ms), which have the most amount of latency. Both speeds and coverage are up notably compared with a year ago, and Sprint appears to be a viable rival to AT&T.

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.

So there are the two numbers that most of you probably care about (4G availability and 4G speed), since we live in a world where accessing a network and posting your download speeds is kind of fun.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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