T-Mobile and Verizon are neck and neck when it comes to LTE network speeds, according to two new studies. And Sprint is still struggling to close the LTE gap with its three bigger rivals.
T-Mobile operated the nation’s fastest LTE network in an OpenSignal study performed between May 1 and July 10, edging out Verizon with an average LTE speed of 16.3 Mbps. Verizon topped its rivals in LTE availability, though, with users able to access a 4G connection 86 percent of the time.
OpenSignal, which tracks wireless coverage, compiled data from 2.8 billion measurements collected by 120,000 users of its app for its second report on the state of U.S. mobile networks. T-Mobile was the top-ranked carrier in four of six categories OpenSignal tested, while Verizon ranked first in LTE availability and Sprint topped the list in carrier latency.
Ookla, which maintains the popular app Speedtest, found similar results. Verizon delivered the fastest download speeds in Ookla’s survey with an average of 21.11 Mbps, barely beating T-Mobile’s 21.02 Mbps. T-Mobile was the clear leader in upload speeds, though, averaging 11.59 Mbps to outpace second-place Verizon’s 8.22 Mbps.
AT&T didn’t place first in any category in either study, but its network performance generally tracked in the middle of the pack. While Sprint’s network had the lowest latency of any carrier according to OpenSignal, it was notably outperformed in several areas: OpenSignal found Sprint had the slowest LTE download speed at 9.4 Mbps and the least availability, with users able to access LTE only 70 percent of the time.
Ookla also found Sprint’s LTE network to be slower than its rivals, averaging 15.04 Mbps download speeds and 4.7 Mbps upload speeds. Still, the network performance gap between the four major U.S. wireless carriers continues to close as LTE buildouts reach their conclusion and carriers begin to look to 5G.
“Over the past year, AT&T had the largest raw improvement of the four major U.S. carriers with an increase of 5.85 Mbps to 19.94 Mbps by the end of June 2016, a 42% improvement,” according to Ookla. “Meanwhile, Sprint had the largest percentage-based performance improvement of the four major U.S. carriers, increasing their speed over the previous year by 54%, going from 9.99 Mbps to 15.42 Mbps. Sprint still trails the other three major U.S. carriers, but they are making a strong push to close the gap.”