T-Mobile's LTE Wireless Network Faster than Verizon -- But Not Much
Amid the fierce competition between wireless carriers, T-Mobile received some good news this week: T-Mobile’s recent bragging about its network has some backbone, according to the OpenSignal State of the Mobile Networks report for the U.S. In fact, Verizon’s average LTE download speed was slightly slower than T-Mobile’s, OpenSignal noted.
"T-Mobile has been bragging about the big coverage gains it’s made in the last year, and our latest batch of data shows T-Mobile does have a lot to boast about,"according to a post on the OpenSignal blog.
In the fourth quarter, OpenSignal measured T-Mobile’s time coverage at 81 percent despite when and where users tried to connect. The firm attributed this performance to T-Mobile’s recent network build out in the 700 MHz airwaves. The 700 MHz range lets signals travel farther in both rural and suburban cities, as well as dense urban areas where there are tall buildings with thick walls.
“T-Mobile still has some catching up to do if it wants to surpass the two U.S. mega-carriers in coverage. It is now within spitting distance of matching coverage with AT&T, which scored 82.6 percent in our coverage measurements, but Verizon still reigns when it comes to network availability with a time coverage metric of 86.7 percent,” according to the OpenSignal blog. “T-Mobile’s network improvements, though, will go a long way to combat criticism about poor coverage.”
What’s Most Important
We turned to Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst in Atlanta, to get his thoughts on the report. He told us making decisions on which network to choose tends to get confusing when comparing different opinions and studies by different groups.
“Last week Nielsen says Sprint is the best. Now OpenSignal says good things about T-Mobile,” Kagan said. “How is the customer supposed to compare and make a decision?”
Since speed and network strength vary for every carrier depending on actual locations and the devices being used, the bottom line is both Sprint and T-Mobile are getting better, quarter by quarter -- and that’s what’s most important, he said.
Indeed, T-Mobile is currently locked in a two-way battle with Verizon for the speed crown. According to OpenSignal, Verizon’s average LTE download speed was slightly slower than T-Mobile’s, at 12 Mbps and 12.3 Mbps, respectively. The firm said that Sprint’s 4G network is still the country’s slowest but speeds have increased year-over-year.
Which Horse To Pick
Consumers cannot determine which wireless providers are best for them based on advertising or studies, Kagan said. Rather, choosing providers comes down to what services consumers use and where they are using these services.
“So if you like T-Mobile, great. Of if you like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless or Sprint, also great. The choice is yours,” Kagan said. “Today AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless have the largest market share and that’s not changing. Today we see Sprint and T-Mobile making big strides and improving their quality and speed as well and winning customers.”
Kagan’s bottom line in what he calls a horse race in the wireless industry: There are four good choices for consumers depending on what they want to spend; what they are willing to trade off; and the types of services they want to use.
Posted: 2016-02-02 @ 11:59am PT
What matters most is the actual customer experience, which is why Sprint is proud of Nielsen Mobile Performance data showing we deliver the fastest LTE download speeds. We’ll keep working hard to provide the best experience for our customers, but we also know that network performance differences are often indiscernible to most customers in most markets. For example, in this report there’s only a 3 second difference for downloading a 7MB file comparing T-Mobile and Verizon’s speed versus Sprint’s. However, when it comes to value, there’s a huge difference, and for most wireless consumers 3 seconds isn't worth paying twice the price.