Although both Verizon and AT&T are seeing some recovery in network speed after the reintroduction of their unlimited plans a year ago, T-Mobile has again topped almost every category in OpenSignal's testing. During this period, OpenSignal looked at 5.9 billion tests taken on 237,213 mobile devices across the U.S.
First, the results show that while AT&T and Verizon were severely impacted by launching unlimited data plans previous year, with both of the biggest carriers in the United States seeing drops in overall download speeds as their 4G LTE networks were stressed by more data consumption. With both 3G and 4G LTE in play, T-Mobile's network clocked in at 18.31 Mbps, Verizon at 16.49 Mbps, AT&T at 11.86 Mbps, and Sprint at 10.24 Mbps. At the end of the summer, T-Mobile's combined 3G/4G download speed was just over 16 Mbps, significantly faster than Verizon's 13.3 Mbps speed.
Verizon and AT&T are neck and neck when it comes to availability, but the only area where T-Mobile falls short of the competition is 4G latency, where OpenSignal has given AT&T a slight edge. AT&T, for what it's worth, won the award in "Latency: 4G", which indicates that it has the most responsive network with a score of 58.29ms.
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In the report issued a year ago, both Verizon and T-Mobile were tied in LTE speed, but T-Mobile has now clearly pulled ahead. You can check the whole thing out right here.
As comprehensive as OpenSignal's report results are, download speeds will always vary by region and device (different phones have different modems capable of different peak download speeds). In 2017, the two largest U.S carriers, AT&T and Verizon, unleashed their unlimited data plans, which means all four major carriers now offer an unlimited data plan in some form.
The fastest possible 4G data speeds are the order of the day, and OpenSignal's data reveals that T-Mobile continues to lead the field. Both T-Mobile and Verizon's scored well over 90 percent in the same segment. Big Red has a history of making big network moves when under pressure. AT&T took home one reward with the best 4G latency. We found Verizon and AT&T 4G speeds dropped steadily in our measurements from February to August as the increased data demand of unlimited plans taxed their LTE network capacity. It was the first major US operator to launch LTE when the technology was only in its infancy, and when Verizon's 4G speeds began suffering under capacity strains in 2013, it responded with a major upgrade it called XLTE, which poured enormous amounts of capacity back into its networks. Our AT&T testers were able to find an LTE signal 87% of the time, while our Sprint users tapped into an LTE signal 85.7% of the time. 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. Like it or hate it, the "Un-carrier" has made incredible strides in recent years, even topping JD Power's rankings for customer service.