T-Mobile topped the charts in Ookla’s latest mobile broadband speed test, delivering a median download speed of 117.83 Mbps on devices sporting chipsets that are able to measure the network’s full capabilities.
5G is T-Mobile’s strong suit, thanks to the carrier’s head start in the race to acquire mid-band spectrum, and Ookla reported T-Mobile had the fastest median 5G download speed in the U.S. at 191.12 Mbps during Q1 2022, up a bit from Q4 2021.
The biggest increase in 5G speeds during Q1 came from Verizon, which lit up a significant portion of its C-Band spectrum during the quarter. Verizon’s median 5G download speed came in at 107.25 Mbps, up from 78.52 Mbps in Q4 2021. AT&T, which has been somewhat slower to turn on C-Band, delivered a median 5G download speed of 68.43 Mbps, about the same as Q4 2021.
For mobile network subscribers, none of this really matters unless they are using 5G. Ookla found most Verizon and AT&T customers are still spending the majority of their time on 4G, even if they have a 5G-capable device. Only 28.2% of Verizon customers with 5G phones spent more than half their time on 5G networks, Ookla reported. AT&T’s customers were more likely to use 5G, with 49.4% spending most of their time on the faster networks. At T-Mobile, 65% of subscribers with 5G phones are accessing 5G more than half of the time, Ookla reported.
T-Mobile President of Technology Neville Ray said in a press release that more than 40% of the carrier’s customers now use a 5G device, and that these customers account for more than half T-Mobile’s network traffic.
If 40% of T-Mobile’s customers use a 5G phone, and Ookla’s finding of 65% spending most of their time on 5G is accurate, about 26% of T-Mobile’s subscribers are spending the majority of their time on 5G networks.
AT&T and Verizon, both of which have offered consumers deep discounts on new smartphones in recent months, may have more subscribers carrying 5G phones than T-Mobile has. According to WhistleOut, an estimated 62% of Amercans now say they own a 5G-capable phone.
Whether they use 5G or not, most mobile subscribers care a lot about whether they can get a signal when they need to communicate or access information. Ookla found network consistency, measured as at least 5 Mbps on the downlink and 1 Mbps on the uplink, was above 80% for all three nationwide carriers during Q1. T-Mobile was first at 88.3% and AT&T was last at 82.1%. 5G consistency scores were slightly lower, with T-Mobile at 79.9%, Verizon at 79.0% and AT&T at 66.8%.
T-Mobile and Verizon tied for first place in Ookla’s measure of latency, both scoring 31 milliseconds, compared to 34 milliseconds for AT&T.
Ookla gathers its information from a free speedtest app which users voluntarily download. This approach has traditionally produced different results from those reported by RootMetrics, which hires people to test network speeds in specific locations. Late last year, Ookla announced plans to acquire RootMetrics, following rival Opensignal’s acquisition by Commlinkdata. RootMetrics continues to test in specific locations, according to its website.