Verizon sweeps RootMetrics awards, but testing continues to show AT&T improvements

award trophy
Verizon’s network performance once again beat out competitors in RootMetrics testing, taking home the most awards across the board, but yet another test shows rival AT&T is improving. (Getty Images)

Verizon’s network performance once again beat out rivals in RootMetrics testing, as the carrier took home the most awards across the board at the national, state and metro level during the first half of 2019.

For its report, RootMetrics used Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphones, and performed 3,915,800 tests while walking and driving across the U.S. and in 125 metro areas.

Nationally, RootMetrics ranked Verizon’s network first in the following five categories: overall performance (RootScore of 94.8), reliability (96.4), speed (91.2), data (95.5), and call (93.5). The carrier tied AT&T for first place ranking in the text category with a score of 96.3. AT&T’s network ranked a close second in the other five categories, garnering scores within two points of Verizon’s across almost every metric except call, which received a score of 91.

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T-Mobile was third in overall performance (RootScore of 86.9), speed (89) and data (92.2) at the national level, while Sprint beat T-Mobile in reliability (88.7), call (82.7) and text (95).

Rootmetrics 1H 2019 national scores
(RootMetrics)

In the top 125 metro areas, Verizon still came out on top, but RootMetrics noted all four carriers delivered “impressive and improved” speed results during the test period. Each also notched excellent reliability marks for getting and staying connected.

RELATED: AT&T wins on speed, Verizon on consistency in Q1-Q2 2019, says Ookla

Verizon’s median download speed intervals clocked in at 40 Mbps or higher in 38 of the 125 metro areas, compared to 17 in the second half of 2018, and the carrier had speeds between 30 Mbps and 40 Mbps in 47 markets.

AT&T came in second with 36 markets of at least 40 Mbps, a stark jump from only six metros in 2H 2018. AT&T also increased the number of markets with median download speeds between 30 Mbps and 40 Mbps to 42, up from 32 in the previous test. T-Mobile markets hitting the 40 Mbps benchmark increased to 24 from 18. Sprint still lagged behind competitors, but improved speeds in the testing period, with 34 markets hitting download speeds of at least 30 Mbps, up from 10 metros previously. Sprint clocked median download speeds of 40 Mbps in only one market. Still, the number of markets where Sprint’s speeds ranged from 0 Mbps to 10 Mbps declined from 12 to four.

In terms of connection reliability, both AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks secured an “Excellent” rating (which requires testing success rates above 97%) in 124 of the 125 markets. RootMetrics testing showed excellent reliability connecting to T-Mobile’s network in 110 markets and 95 on Sprint’s network. T-Mobile and Verizon both delivered an excellent reliability rating for staying connected in all 125 markets, with AT&T close behind at 124 markets. Sprint metrics showed a modest decline, but hit the 97% threshold in 90 markets.

RootMetrics 1H 2019 speed graph

(RootMetrics)

Overall, Verizon had the fastest median download speed – hitting 67.8 Mbps in Dayton, Ohio.  The carrier’s slowest download speed was still significantly faster than competitors, at 18.5 Mbps in Omaha, Nebraska.

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

T-Mobile’s fastest and slowest download speeds were 63.3 Mbps in Flint, Michigan, and 6.8 Mbps in Victor Valley, California. AT&T’s network delivered 62 Mbps in Portland, while its slowest of 6.7 Mbps was in McAllen, Texas. Sprint’s fastest speed clocked in at 45.7 Mbps in Las Vegas, and the carrier’s slowest was 1.7 Mbps in Jackson, Mississippi.

RootMetrics said Verizon earned the highest total of RootScore Awards by any carrier since the company began testing in the current categories.  At the city-level Verizon won a total of 307 awards outright and tied for 365 awards, a total increase five from last year’s test.  AT&T had the largest improvement among the carriers, with its award total jumping from 349 to 380, including gains in overall performance and network reliability.

While Verizon took the crown in RootMetrics testing, Opensignal results released Monday showed T-Mobile narrowly beat the nation’s largest carrier for the fastest 4G LTE download and upload speeds. Earlier this month, Ookla’s Speedtest report ranked AT&T as the fastest operator in the U.S. The reports each employ different testing methods. RootMetrics relies on drive testing, Opensignal uses automatic device measurements, while Ookla’s data relies on consumer-initiated network tests.

A consistent trend in across the reports is that AT&T’s network upgrades, including the addition of more spectrum and LTE-Advanced technologies, are paying off.  AT&T received much criticism when it branded its LTE network enhancements as ‘5GE’ and updated smartphone connectivity icons, but the changes appear to have resulted in significant performance and speed improvements.

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