After losing the LTE speed crown to T-Mobile back in August, Verizon clawed its way back to the top to secure a statistical tie with the Un-carrier in OpenSignal’s latest “State of Mobile Networks” report. But the firm noted T-Mobile made gains of its own to bring it within a “stone’s throw” of matching or beating its top rival on nearly all performance metrics.
OpenSignal’s latest data placed Verizon and T-Mobile neck and neck with a top LTE speed of about 16.8 Mbps, while the pair also tied at about 14.7 Mbps in the Overall Speed category, which measures the typical connection speed a user experiences across the network. AT&T and Sprint came in third and fourth, respectively in each category with max LTE speeds of 13.86 Mbps and 8.99 Mbps and overall speeds of 11.69 Mbps and 7.14 Mbps.
OpenSignal observed Sprint made significant gains in availability – jumping from 70 percent in August to 77 percent – but noted those seemed to come at the expense of LTE speeds, which dipped from 9.4 Mbps in August to 8.9 Mbps. On the other hand, the firm said it saw evidence of Verizon’s LTE-Advanced roll out in a speed boost in major cities like New York, where Verizon’s LTE speed average increased from 17 Mbps to 22 Mbps in six months.
Verizon maintained its seat as at the top in terms of 4G availability, but OpenSignal noted T-Mobile continued to make gains on Big Red. Verizon’s availability score of 88.2 percent was slightly higher than the 86 percent score it posted in August, but T-Mobile was hot on its heels with an increase from 83 percent in August to 86.6 percent in the most recent report.
“The war between T-Mobile and Verizon over network performance has taken a new twist,” OpenSignal wrote in its report. “In our latest round of tests, Verizon has regained lost ground in 4G speed, bringing it even with T-Mobile. Meanwhile T-Mobile has continued to narrow the gap with Verizon in our 4G availability rankings, putting the Un-carrier within a stone’s throw of matching Verizon signal for signal. In no report has the clash between the two operators been so heated. Either Verizon or T-Mobile won or shared every single national award in our report.”
T-Mobile took home top honors in both 3G speed (pretty much crushing the competition with 4 Mbps to AT&T’s 3 Mbps, Sprint’s 0.97 Mbps, and Verizon’s 0.85 Mbps) and 3G latency, while Verizon won first place in 4G latency (Sprint came in second there).
Despite gains for most carriers in LTE speeds, OpenSignal noted U.S. operators are still behind the curve compared the global LTE download speed average of 17.4 Mbps. And considering other countries in Europe, East Asia, and even Canada that have launched LTE-Advanced technologies, OpenSignal pointed out the United States lags even farther behind average LTE-A speeds of 25 Mbps.
OpenSignal said its report was based on 4.6 billion measurements collected by 169,683 smartphone users in the fourth quarter of 2016.