The figures are finally starting to back up T-Mobile CEO John Legere’s boasts.
According to OpenSignal’s latest State of Mobile Networks: USA report, T-Mobile has made strides to match top competitor Verizon for speed, besting it slightly with an average of 12.3 mbps on LTE to Verizon’s 12 mbps.
In eleven metro areas, T-Mobile won the speed contest in four markets to Verizon’s three, with statistical ties in another three cities. In the eleventh market, Houston, the results were a tie between all four carriers.
T-Mobile also blew the other carriers out of the water with its 3G download speeds, posting an average of nearly 3.5 mbps to AT&T’s 2.2 mbps, Verizon’s .66 mbps and Sprint’s .64 mbps.
However, there is still work to be done, as T-Mobile lags behind Verizon in coverage reliability.
The new report, which is based on data collected from regular consumer smartphones that have downloaded the OpenSignal app, shows that Verizon’s coverage is still king with consumers able to access LTE coverage nearly 87 percent of the time. AT&T and T-Mobile came in a close second and third with 82.6 percent and 81.2 percent, respectively, while Sprint trailed in last place with an almost even 70 percent.
But while the report painted a competitive domestic picture, OpenSignal’s analysis indicated that the U.S. is falling behind its international counterparts when it comes to LTE speeds.
According to OpenSignal, the average U.S. connection speed of 9.9 mbps is significantly less than the global download average of 13.5 mbps and even farther behind the increasingly prevalent connections that offer a consistent 20 mbps or greater. U.S. connection speeds, the report said, are currently on par with those of Argentina, which only launched its LTE network a year ago.
“That’s not to say that U.S. operators are delivering a poor LTE experience to their customers — 10 Mbps is more than enough to power any app on a smartphone — but the U.S. clearly is no longer pushing mobile technology boundaries like it used to,” the report said.
According to OpenSignal, while U.S. carriers have expanded coverage more easily, increased LTE speeds have been hampered by a number of political and technological setbacks.
OpenSignal said the transition to Voice over LTE services is one way the U.S. can solve its 4G capacity problems and pointed to T-Mobile’s recent speed gains as evidence that spectrum from 2G networks can be put to use to give LTE a boost.
However, OpenSignal’s report also said that U.S. networks will need to tap into new and larger blocks of spectrum if they want to catch up with their counterparts in Europe and Asia, and will also need to invest in LTE-Advanced technologies that can tie multiple bands of spectrum together.
OpenSignal’s latest report was draw from 376,893,289 data points collected from 181,927 users of the iOS and Android OpenSignal app during the period between Oct.1 and Dec. 31, 2015.