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Mobile wins five of six OpenSignal network awards, AT&T takes latency crown

23 January 2018

On 4G availability, T-Mobile edges out Verizon with a 93.14 percent rating, compared to 92.72 percent. And that should mean that the latest Open Signal figures have no bias toward T-Mobile.

Although the larger carriers largely lagged T-Mobile, the OpenSignal analysis also noted that Verizon and AT&T halted declines in 4G speed a year ago after new unlimited data plans put increased pressure on network capacity. In Q4 2017, T-Mobile averaged LTE downloads of 19.4 Mbps, while Verizon only saw 17.8 Mbps. As ridiculous as that sounds, the latest Open Signal data was collected no sooner than eight months after Verizon started its unlimited plans.

Though AT&T has also stemmed its LTE speed decline, its recovery has been more muted. 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.

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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.

Overall, T-Mobile offers the fastest download speed of the major four networks. T-Mobile 4G speeds have been shooting upwards steadily for the a year ago, and in the 4th quarter it hit a new 4G download high of 19.4 Mbps, establishing it as the clear leader in 4G speed for the second report in a row. AT&T had a tougher time keeping LTE active on subscriber mobile devices with LTE availability at 87.03%, while Sprint managed just 85.66% coverage.

The Uncarrier took the the top spot in five of the six categories OpenSignal measures.

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Speaking of Sprint, although it may still rank last in all of the above metrics, it is by far the most improved carrier throughout 2017. The only metric T-Mobile didn't win was 4G latency; AT&T just beat it by a hair. That neck-and-neck race was evident in our 33-city analysis where Verizon had the advantage.

T-Mobile USA Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) built on a lead it established last summer to once again claim the title as the fastest 3G and 4G mobile networks in the United States. AT&T came in second with 2.71 Mbps, Sprint in third with 1 Mbps, and Verizon pulled up the rear with an very bad 0.87 Mbps. While latency doesn't get as much attention as speed or availability, it's becoming an important measure of the overall mobile network experience.

According to OpenSignal, while considering the deployment of 5G, competition for the mobile networks is heating up and 2018 will be pretty unpredictable. We'll see if Sprint can continue its 4G momentum and for the first time challenge its three larger competitors in our core metrics. For more information about the tests, data, or methodologies, you can check out the report in full at OpenSignal. 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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Mobile wins five of six OpenSignal network awards, AT&T takes latency crown