It's no secret that a significant amount of attention and interest has been paid to wireless network speeds in the United States and globally. And LTE networks clearly provide faster download speeds than 3G networks.
However, relatively little attention has been paid to 3G and LTE latency speeds--which is notable considering a number of operators have pointed to improved latency as a major reason behind the push to LTE. Indeed, when Verizon announced its LTE deployment in 2010, the operator boasted that "the user plane latency achieved in LTE is approximately 1/2 (one-half) corresponding latency in existing 3G technologies. This provides a direct service advantage for highly immersive and interactive application environments, such as multiplayer gaming and rich multimedia communications."
Latency is defined as the time it takes for a source to send a packet of data to a receiver. Latency is typically measured in milliseconds. The lower the latency (the fewer the milliseconds), the better the network performance.
FierceWireless, with partner OpenSignal, is hoping to shed some light onto the latency issue. We are reporting the network latency speeds of the Tier 1 U.S. wireless carriers. (Click here for October's numbers, here for November's numbers, here for December's numbers, here for January's numbers, here for February's numbers and here for May's numbers. We missed a few months recently, but should be back on track now.)
Below you'll find charts showing exactly how the carriers stacked up against each other in June and July across their different network technologies, from LTE to EV-DO Rev. A to eHRPD (a software solution that allows Verizon and Sprint to use existing CDMA towers to pass data packets over to the LTE network) to HSPAP (part of the HSPA upgrade path) to HSPA. You'll also find the raw data collected by OpenSignal that the charts are based on.
In the below charts, Sprint continued to post the highest latency speeds in LTE transmissions. However, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US posted latency results relatively close to those from Sprint. AT&T Mobility, as in several recent months, posted the lowest latency speeds. Interestingly, T-Mobile appears to have notably improved the latency speeds on its HSPA network when compared with the April-May timeframe.
OpenSignal uses a panel of more than 1 million consumer devices to provide real world data on the performance and coverage of mobile networks. For the latency test, OpenSignal runs three ICMP pings on google.com and takes the average. For more information on OpenSignal and its offerings, click here.
Tier 1 U.S. carrier network latency in LTE networks in June and July:
Tier 1 U.S. carrier network latency across 3G networks in June and July:
Tier 1 U.S. carrier network latency across all high-speed wireless networks in June and July:
The raw data (June and July):