Verizon reclaims lead over T-Mobile in network strength: report

A new report from OpenSignal found a resurgent Verizon beat T-Mobile on 4G availability nationwide. (OpenSignal)

After coming out on top for two consecutive years, T-Mobile’s network was beat by Verizon in OpenSignal’s latest Mobile Network Experience report. Based on data collected during a three-month period ending Dec. 14, Verizon won the top awards for 4G availability, video experience and upload speed experience, according to OpenSignal.

T-Mobile and Verizon were even on download speed experience, and AT&T won the top spot for latency experience. “Verizon has either caught up to or surpassed T-Mobile in nearly every one of our primary metrics,” wrote Kevin Fitchard, lead analyst at OpenSignal. “Though Verizon had the upper hand in the most current iteration of our awards, we still see very close races in most categories. The battle between Verizon and T-Mobile is far from over.”

Indeed, Verizon narrowly beat T-Mobile in 4G availability with a score of 94.2% compared to T-Mobile’s score of 94%. AT&T and Sprint nabbed scores of 88.9% and 88.4%, respectively.

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The video experience on wireless carriers remains lackluster, due in large part to the restrictions operators place on most unlimited data plans for video resolution, according to OpenSignal. None of the nation’s top four operators scored above a fair rating in the firm’s new measurement of video experiences on mobile devices. A fair rating typical indicates longer load times and frequent stalling.

Verizon earned the top video experience score of 52.1, while T-Mobile came in at 48.8, followed by Sprint at 43.3 and AT&T with a score of 42.5. “As more unlimited data plans have gained prominence, the major operators have been introducing more restrictions on video resolutions supported on those plans,” Fitchard wrote.

On download speeds, OpenSignal called it a draw between Verizon and T-Mobile, but T-Mobile actually generated a higher average download speed of 21.1 Mbps compared to Verizon’s average download speed of 20.9 Mbps. AT&T’s average download speed was 17.8 Mbps, and Sprint was in a distant fourth place with an average download speed of 13.9 Mbps, according to OpenSignal.

In OpenSignal’s regional analysis of the networks, average download speeds were more mixed. “Verizon was the undisputed winner in download speed experience in 13 cities, while T-Mobile and AT&T were ahead in eight cities and six cities respectively,” Fitchard wrote.

Upload speeds garnered similar results with Verizon’s average upload speed of 7 Mbps and T-Mobile generating an average upload speed of 6.7 Mbps. AT&T and Sprint were both well behind with average upload speeds of 4.6 Mbps and 2.4 Mbps, respectively.

OpenSignal’s latest Mobile Network Experience report pulled data from 1,057,522 devices spanning 10,066,989,001 total measurements.