Verizon Tops AT&T in Network Quality, Sprint Makes Strong Gains over T-Mobile

by Matt Klassen on August 24, 2015

Last week wireless network testing firm RootMetrics posted its biannual rankings for U.S. wireless networks, testing data reliability and network speeds as well as call and texting performance across the nation. The results, for the most part, were predictable, with Verizon taking the majority of the awards for local, state, and nationwide coverage, with AT&T coming in close second. The surprise was that Sprint made strong gains, beating out rival T-Mobile, although Sprint’s performance was still a far cry from company CEO Marcelo Claure’s promise to rise into the top two nationwide within two years.

It should come as no surprise then that given T-Mobile’s relatively poor performance in RootMetrics rankings, a generally accepted barometer of the industry, that company CEO John Legere would come out firing, calling the finding’s “bull****”, and complaining that the firm’s testing methodology is inherently flawed.

But say what you might about T-Mobile’s strong consumer-drive marketing campaign of these last few years, there is no denying that when it comes to network stability, performance, and speed Verizon still stands atop all others, with AT&T nipping at its heels.

In total, Verizon grabbed five of six nationwide awards, with AT&T earning one for text performance, while at a state level Verizon took 253 awards to AT&T’s 95 and Sprint’s 25. It was at the city level that proved the most competitive, as Verizon took 512, while AT&T took 441, T-Mobile had 221, and Sprint had 180.

While Verizon was the clear winner, AT&T had an extremely strong showing as well, the only other carrier to win a nationwide award. AT&T also finished just behind Verizon in five of six categories, leading the firm to conclude that should these strong gains continue, Verizon’s lofty perch may soon be challenged.

“With strong reliability, fast speeds, and an improved total of Overall RootScore Awards in metro testing, AT&T could narrow the gap with Verizon even further as we move into the second half of 2015 and beyond,” RootMetrics said in its report.

As mentioned, the real battle was between Sprint and T-Mobile, with Legere complaining last year that the results were based on old reporting, and promised that when this year’s results came out it would show the truth, T-Mobile would be ahead. Unfortunately for Legere, that simply wasn’t the case, as T-Mobile finished last in four out of six major network categories, its strongest showing a third place finish network speed and data performance.

But does that mean you should quickly jump over to Verizon because they ranked the highest in RootMetrics testing results or avoid T-Mobile because they ranked the lowest? Not so fast says the testing firm.

“Mobile network performance is not a singular event. You deserve clear performance information that is relevant to all the spaces of your life, for everywhere that you work, play, and live. Think about it: you live in a neighbourhood, perhaps commute through a city, are part of a state, and count yourself as a resident of the United States as well. You aren’t just one of these; you’re all of them simultaneously.”

Simply put, Verizon may have evidence to back up its claim of being the most expansive nationwide network, but that really means nothing to you as an individual. Sure Verizon may have the best coverage where you live, but how about where you work, or where you spend the majority of your time?

As evidence, T-Mobile has excellent metropolitan coverage, but ranked fared poorly on the state and national levels because it lacks rural network coverage. For you that means if you live outside the city centre, T-Mobile is likely not for you, but if you work downtown, it may, in fact, be the better choice than Verizon or AT&T.

All that to say, these test results are a measure of average performance across a number of categories, but truthfully the results should just be a starting point for you to find out what networks suits your wireless lifestyle the best.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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