3G/4G wireless network latency: How did Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile compare in Q2 2015?

By Mike Dano

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.

Below you'll find charts showing exactly how the carriers stacked up against each other in the second quarter 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, AT&T showed a slight increase in latency speeds on its LTE network in the second quarter, when compared with the operator's results from the first quarter. Sprint too showed an increase in its 3G latency speeds during that period. Overall, Sprint showed some of the lowest latency figures in the second quarter when compared with its rivals.

Click here for OpenSignal's latency report for the first quarter, and here for a report from last year.

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. To subscribe to OpenSignal's newsletter, click here.

Tier 1 U.S. carrier network latency in LTE networks in the second quarter of 2015:

Tier 1 U.S. carrier network latency across 3G networks in the second quarter of 2015:

Tier 1 U.S. carrier network latency across all high-speed wireless networks in the second quarter of 2015:

The raw data (in the second quarter of 2015):

Operator

Network Type

Mean Latency (ms)

AT&T

HSPA

135.0014

AT&T

HSPA+

128.6823

AT&T

LTE

81.83844

AT&T

UMTS

127.2936

Sprint

eHRPD

123.6821

Sprint

EVDO A

118.764

Sprint

LTE

71.86203

T-Mobile

HSPA

119.7444

T-Mobile

HSPA+

110.0739

T-Mobile

LTE

75.31923

T-Mobile

UMTS

106.1969

Verizon

eHRPD

135.4988

Verizon

EVDO A

139.3128

Verizon

LTE

83.82607

 

3G/4G wireless network latency: How did Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile compare in Q2 2015?
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