Verizon tops RootMetrics study as T-Mobile decries methodology

Verizon once again topped RootMetrics' study of the nation's largest wireless networks

Verizon’s network once again was judged the nation’s best by RootMetrics, sweeping all six categories in a test of the nation’s biggest wireless networks. And T-Mobile—which finished last among the big four—took issue with RootMetrics’ testing measures even before results were released.

Verizon’s network was judged tops in overall performance; reliability, speed, data performance, call performance and text performance in the second half of 2016. The latest results mark the seventh consecutive time Verizon has claimed top honors for overall performance.

RootMetrics credited Verizon’s LTE enhancements with helping the nation’s largest carrier continue to claim the No. 1 spot.

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“Based on our testing, Verizon is the undisputed leader in terms of coverage and network reliability. Indeed, Verizon’s network reliability results were the strongest among all carriers at the metro, state, and national levels in the second half of 2016,” RootMetrics said in its report.

“In the summer of 2016, Verizon enabled its LTE-Advanced service, utilizing 3-carrier aggregation,” the network-testing firm continued. “Verizon’s carrier aggregation has provided a significant boost to the carrier’s already impressive download speeds. Verizon and T-Mobile are currently the only carriers widely using 3-carrier aggregation, though Sprint began rolling out 3CA in the second half of 2016, and AT&T is expected to widely use 3CA in the near future.”

Verizon scored a 93.9 out of 100 in RootMetrics’ report, and AT&T finished in the second slot with a score of 90.5. Sprint’s network came in third with a score of 84.7, and T-Mobile’s 81.2 rounded out the rankings.

RELATED: Verizon, T-Mobile run fastest LTE networks, OpenSignal finds

RootMetrics performed 3.7 million tests for the report, using off-the-shelf smartphones to access networks day and night while walking and driving. The firm drove 250,000 to conduct tests in nearly 4,300 indoor locations and claims to have covered 100 percent of the U.S. population.

The firm also uses tools such as hypothesis testing, experiment design and statistics in an effort to provide objective and accurate assessments from the consumer’s point of view. But T-Mobile took a pre-emptive shot at the results Wednesday, with CTO Neville Ray taking to the company’s blog to question RootMetrics’ methodology, which includes testing in rural areas where 4G—and even 3G—services may not be available.

“It’s that time of year again. The time when Verizon starts touting network results from consultants they’ve paid millions,” Ray wrote in a T-Mobile blog post. “Here’s the thing, the network studies Verizon touts are like using CD sales to rank today’s hit songs. A decade or two ago, CD sales told you everything you needed to know about song popularity…. The same is true of the studies Verizon loves to scream about. In a 2G world, these studies were everything. You needed paid consultants to drive around and measure network performance.”

Instead, Ray argued, crowdsourced-based testing methods—such as those used by Speedtest.net, Twin Prime and OpenSignal—provide a more accurate gauge of real-world network performance for most users. Indeed, test results released by OpenSignal earlier this month found that Verizon and T-Mobile operate the two fastest LTE networks in the nation, although Verizon’s footprint is larger.

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