Study finds AT&T's network best at inauguration

Donald Trump
AT&T's network was best among the major U.S. carriers at last week's inauguration, according to a study.

All four major wireless carriers touted their efforts to boost service in Washington, D.C., in advance of last week’s inauguration, but AT&T’s network was tops, according to Global Wireless Solutions.

GWS, which measures the performance of wireless networks, set up sites along the National Mall and other areas along the parade route, collecting data using the company’s diagnostic app on Samsung Galaxy S7 phones. Network performance was gauged on all four carriers in terms of completing common tasks such as making calls, uploading videos and using social media.

Roughly 15,000 voice and data tests were performed during a seven-hour span last Friday on the four major wireless networks. And as President Trump once said about his words, AT&T had the best.

“From the tests conducted it seems preparations paid off for AT&T,” GWS said in a press release. “AT&T’s throughput was, on average, double that (or more) of its closest competitor. Additionally, Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s networks experienced very low levels of task success rate during the testing on the Mall—during this time Sprint failed more than four out of every ten task attempts.”

AT&T said earlier this month that it had invested $15 million and quintupled its capacity in Washington, D.C., in advance of the event. The carrier boosted LTE capacity across the area by 400%, installed or upgraded 20 distributed antenna systems at major venues and upgraded 20 permanent LTE sites in addition to deploying seven “Super Cell on Wheels”—or COWs—along the Mall.

And AT&T wasn’t the only carrier to crow about its pre-Inaugural work. Verizon said it used Remote Electrical Tilt (RET) antennas and other technologies to boost capacity by 500%, and Sprint doubled the capacity of its 1.9 GHz cell sites along the Mall and at Metro locations in addition to using carrier aggregation on its 2.5 GHz sites to provide faster data speeds. T-Mobile claimed to have increased its 4G capacity in areas surrounding the mall tenfold using LTE Advanced technologies such as 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM.

“Providing fast and reliable wireless service was a challenge for the mobile operators given that thousands of users were on their phones in the same area at virtually the same time,” GWS CEO Paul Carter said. “In order to meet this unusual demand in service, the operators had to go the extra mile to prepare and bolster their networks, and our tests showed that for the most part this challenge was met.”