T-Mobile network outperforms the rest at Super Bowl

Football stadium lights and field
T-Mobile's cellular network came out on top at Super Bowl 2019. (efks/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

T-Mobile’s cellular network had the fastest performance during the Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, according to tests conducted throughout the game by Speedtest. The nation’s third-largest carrier achieved a mean download speed of 101.54 Mbps during the entirety of the game to 30 minutes after the final snap.

Sprint’s network also performed well with a mean download speed of 93.28 Mbps during the same period. Verizon ranked third with a mean download speed of 72.51 Mbps, but the carrier routed most of its customers through a Wi-Fi network that achieved an average download speed of 46.42 Mbps, according to Speedtest. AT&T was in a distant fourth pace with a mean download speed of 34.88 Mbps.

Each of the big four wireless operators prepared for the big game with various equipment deployments.

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AT&T upgraded its in-stadium DAS (distributed antenna system) to provide roughly 300% more LTE capacity and installed DAS at 30 additional locations throughout Atlanta in addition to hundreds of small cells. T-Mobile deployed more than 300 small cells at venues for the event, updated its DAS at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and deployed an outdoor C-RAN (centralized radio access network) system to boost coverage for tailgaters.

Sprint used a Massive MIMO deployment to increase capacity and improve speed throughout Atlanta, and installed enough equipment to cover seven cell sites at the stadium. Finally, Verizon said it installed nearly 30 cell sites in Atlanta and additional portable cell sites at various event locations.

Overall, the average download speed on cellular networks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was 71.23 Mbps, which represents a 19.4% increase from the networks’ collective performance during the Peach Bowl last month at the same venue, according to Speedtest.