Mobile gets the fastest 3G and 4G network title

Image U. Baumgarten  Getty Images

Image U. Baumgarten Getty Images

For this we saw T-Mobile and Verizon essentially deadlocked. "That's why T-Mobile customers are the happiest in wireless".

OpenSignal wrote, "T-Mobile established itself as the dominant operator in speed, and won almost every OpenSignal performance award in the 4th quarter".

According to OpenSignal, T-Mobile ended the year with an average 4G download speed of 19.42 Mbps, while Verizon played catch-up at 17.77 Mbps. That's a sharp contrast to Verizon, which saw a dip in its 4G speed early in 2017 after it introduced unlimited data plans, increasing the amount of traffic on its network. Our testers on T-Mobile were able to connect to an LTE network 93.1% of the time, while our Verizon users found a similar connection 92.7%. While the carrier has a long way to go, it has been able to improve its 4G download speeds and availability from 3Mbps to 12Mbps.

There's a very general trend across all four carriers here though- access to 4G data has grown substantially over the past year. "Their 4G speeds began steadily falling in our measurements as their networks faced the increased data consumption".

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. T-Mobile 4G speeds have been shooting upwards steadily for the previous year, 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. The nation's third largest carrier took the blue ribbon for 4G and 3G Download Speed, Overall Download Speed, 3G Latency and Availability. It will be free for existing AT&T customers. As in our last report, the two leading operators were extremely close in this metric, though T-Mobile barely edged out Verizon for our 4G availability award in the 4th quarter.

And in last place is Sprint, which didn't win any awards.

On the six measurements made by network monitoring firm OpenSignal, T-Mobile ranked first in five, while AT&T Inc. That neck-and-neck race was evident in our 33-city analysis where Verizon had the advantage. 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. AT&T scores 87.07 percent and Sprint scored 85.66 percent.

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.

2018 could prove to be an even more unpredictable year than its predecessor for the US mobile industry.

Another interesting battle can be found in the regional performance chart that OpenSignal included in this report. The more power the operators build into their LTE systems, the better prepared they'll be to offer the next generation of mobile services.

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