AT&T overtakes rivals for fastest download speeds – Opensignal

AT&T also had the most outright city-level wins for fastest average download speed, according to Opensignal. (Getty Images)

AT&T has climbed to the top spot for fastest average 3G and 4G LTE download speeds, overtaking T-Mobile and Verizon, according to new data from Opensignal.

Although the nation’s largest carriers have been deploying 5G service on a limited basis, Opensignal found that only 1% of speed tests by U.S. 5G users had an active 5G connection. Opensignal’s Mobile Network Experience Report January 2020 is based on about 5.3 billion measurements automatically captured on 1.67 million devices over six months between September 16 and December 14, 2019.

On a nationwide basis AT&T jumped two spots, up from its third-place ranking in Opensignal’s July report, with users experiencing a significant 22% increase in download speeds over six months, from 22.5 Mbps to 27.5 Mbps in the latest report. Opensignal in July had indicated AT&T’s rapid improvement could propel the carrier to first place in the future – in March AT&T users were experiencing average download speeds of just 15.1 Mbps.  

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RELATED: T-Mobile ranks first in 4G download speeds, but AT&T leads at regional level - Opensignal

T-Mobile ceded the crown but was not far behind in second with average download speeds of 25.8 Mbps. Verizon, meanwhile, dropped one spot to third, but the carrier was neck in neck with T-Mobile, with speeds of 25.3 Mbps. Sprint rounded out the bottom at 23.9 Mbps. 

Opensignal Jan 2020 download speed chart

When 4G LTE results were separated out from 3G, AT&T had an even greater lead with download speeds of 29.1 Mbps - 10% faster than second place T-Mobile at 26.3 Mbps. Verizon and Sprint both clocked average speeds 25.9 Mbps for 4G LTE.  

As noted by Opensignal, AT&T’s improved experience makes sense given its rapid deployment of new spectrum alongside LTE-Advanced technologies like carrier aggregation and 4x4 MIMO. Ookla previously ranked AT&T’s network as the fastest in the country.

AT&T also had the most outright city-level wins at 26, plus an additional 42 ties for first in Opensignal’s regional breakdown of average download speeds. That compares to Verizon’s nine solo and 36 shared wins, and T-Mobile’s nine solo and 34 draws.  

According to Opensignal, AT&T out-paced competitors in terms of latency, and at 49.7ms, was the first operator to come in below the 50ms mark. In some markets like Atlanta and Dallas, users recorded significantly faster scores in the mid-30ms range.

Still, T-Mobile was close on AT&T’s heels nationwide, with users’ average latency time at 50.4ms. Verizon users experienced the longest lag time of 56.4ms, slightly behind Sprint users at 55ms.

Notably, Verizon did clock latency speeds in the low-to-mid 40 ms range in cities like Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., according to the report.

Read about Verizon’s wins across 4G availability, coverage, and video categories here.

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