T-Mobile led the top U.S. wireless carriers in LTE availability and overall download speeds in the final quarter of 2017, according to the latest analysis from OpenSignal.
The State of Mobile Networks report for the U.S. issued Monday found that T-Mobile saw an average LTE download speed of 19.4 Mbps between October and December while Verizon averaged 17.8 Mbps. AT&T followed at 13.3 Mbps and Sprint registered 12 Mbps.
The report, which utilized more than 5.9 billion measurements from more than 237,000 test devices, tabbed T-Mobile as the leader in 4G, 3G and overall download speeds, as well as in 4G availability and 3G latency. AT&T led the latest analysis in 4G latency.
T-Mobile test devices were able to access an LTE connection more than 93 percent of the time, according to the study, narrowly edging out Verizon’s 92.7 percent. AT&T and Sprint came in at 87 percent and 85.7 percent, respectively.
T-Mobile hailed the results as evidence that its network was on par with market leader Verizon and said any differences in rural coverage would be addressed as it begins to roll out spectrum in the 600 MHz band.
“Billions of real customer tests prove we’ve built America’s best network,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a statement. “That’s why T-Mobile customers are the happiest in wireless.”
Although the larger carriers lagged T-Mobile, the OpenSignal analysis also noted that Verizon and AT&T halted declines in 4G speed last year after new unlimited data plans put increased pressure on network capacity.
Verizon’s download speeds in the latest quarter, in fact, returned to the levels seen before its introduction of unlimited plans, but OpenSignal analysts noted that T-Mobile made significant network improvements as Verizon dealt with its data issues.
“Verizon’s 4G speeds may have returned to pre-unlimited levels, but the recovery may have come too late,” analysts wrote.
AT&T saw a more modest recovery in download speeds and remained below its previous levels. The OpenSignal study, however, found that the company took over the top spot in 4G latency from T-Mobile after recording LTE network ping times of just 58.3 milliseconds.
The report also noted that last-place Sprint made significant gains in both LTE speed and availability in the latest analysis. The carrier’s download speeds jumped 33 percent over the past year.
“Sprint still sat in last place in 4G speed, but if it continues its steep upwards trajectory, it could soon put pressure on AT&T for the third-place slot,” analysts wrote.
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.